Not really that much different than it is on the ground. It's generally about 3 degrees cooler per 1000 feet, but since we don't usually fly above 2000 feet in a normal flight, you won't feel a big difference in temperature.
Dressing in layers is always good! When we fly in the morning, it's usually chill at dawn then warm by the time we're done packing up the balloon after the flight. So it's important to be able to take a layer on or off as the sun rises or sets, depending on whether it's a morning or evening flight.
We fly either in the two hour window after sunrise, or before sunset.
The reason we fly in the early morning or just before sunset is because the winds are the most calm and predictable. Unfortunately, some people aren't into getting up super early to go flying (though we think those flights are the prettiest). Afternoon flights are also great, and don't require setting your alarm clock for 5am.
Ballooning can be a fickle sport. We need some wind, but not too much. 2 to 4 miles per hour on the surface is ideal, while winds of 8 to 12 miles per hour higher up gives us the ability to cover some distance while looking for a landing spot.
We land wherever the wind takes us! When selecting a launching spot, we have a good idea of where the winds will take us generally, so we go upwind of good areas to land in. When it's time to land, we start looking for good spots, which can include big yards in subdivisions, schools, parks, just about anywhere that's large enough and free of powerlines and lamp posts.
Liquid propane is what we use, just like your gas grill. We carry 30 to 40 gallons on board for a flight.
Yes, indeed. It's all regulated by our friends at the Federal Aviation Administration, just like planes and helicopters. Getting a license requires many hours of flight training, then a written test, an oral test, and a flight test. To be a hobby balloonist, you just need a Private Pilots License. If you want to fly passengers for hire like we do, then you need to get an additional rating known as a Commercial Pilots License. Every two years, pilots have to be reviewed to maintain their license.
Sure, but we ask for them to be at least six years old.
We don't think so! A lot of people who say they have a fear of heights, really instead have a fear of falling, which is different. In the basket, you will feel safe and secure. Any initial worry or anxiety reduces quickly once you're up in the sky and enjoying the ride.
Very rarely will someone not be able to handle the flight, and in that case we can set back down and let you out, but not always immediately, as it depends on how quickly we can find a suitable spot to set down. It's really so rare that someone has a reaction like this, however. Usually people, even nervous people, love it!
We aim to fly for 45 minutes to an hour. Occasionally it needs to be cut a few minutes short if there's a great landing spot coming up and not many more for a while. Of course, in case of urgency or if bad weather pops up, we may need to land early.
We fly first thing in the morning, or right before sunset. We can fly year round, as Bob is from Michigan and doesn't mind the cold weather!
Most people imagine that we have to keep the balloon in a hanger at the airport, but really they just store in the garage.
Yes, hot air ballooning is very safe in general. We take great precaution to minimize risk by only flying when the weather is ideal, and never pushing the limits of safety. People hear about the rare accidents on the news, but they don't hear about the hundreds of thousands of safe flights that occur each year in America.
Light wind, and no rain or storms in the area. Even a thunderstorm a hundred miles away can affect our local wind patterns, so we watch the radar obsessively while planning the flight.
Depending on wind speed, we may fly anywhere from 3 to 12 miles in a normal flight.
The balloon itself, called the envelope, is made out of nylon or polyester, depending on the brand. The basket is made out of whicker, because it's resilient and easy to repair.
Have your own questions about flying not covered here? Use the contact form below to ask us, or call 615-423-7042 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. We're happy to answer any and all questions that you may have!