How Do I Schedule A Ride?
Rides are scheduled by advance reservation, so call soon to schedule. While there may be times when there is immediate availability, we are usually booked a couple of weeks in advance.
Do You Need A Pilot’s License To Fly Passengers In A Hot Air Balloon?
Yes, to fly a passenger for airfare in any FAA regulated aircraft requires a Commercial Pilot’s License. Pilots are required to have bi annual flights reviews.
Why Is Weather So Important?
In that hot air ballooning is 100 percent weather dependent, we make every effort to obtain accurate weather forecasts. Using the many available computer weather websites, radar loops, satellite images, surface maps, and the FAA flight service (along with just plain sitting outside and watching the weather), we strive to provide 100 percent accuracy when we get together for a flight.
Weather dictates whether we can or cannot fly. Balloons do not take off from airport runways. Grass is used, and it cannot be wet. Likewise the ground on which we land cannot be wet.
Since balloons are unable to navigate around bad weather as an airplane can, weather conditions must be perfect. We look for winds no greater than 10 miles per hour, preferably lower, especially at landing. Winds aloft may be no greater than 25 miles per hour. We do not fly in fog, haze, or low cloud ceilings.
Where Do We Take Off And Land?
Our launch site is determined when we meet. A helium pi ball (pilot balloon) is released to confirm wind speed and direction. All passengers are transported in our van to the launch site and back after landing.
We generally never land in the same location twice, even when we launch from the same place. Alongside a rural road or in a cut hay field, a park, or a large yard are good landing spots. Most landowners are thrilled to see a beautiful balloon land on their property.
We celebrate the conclusion of our adventure at our office with a champagne toast, with etched champagne flutes which are yours to keep.
How High Do We Fly?
In the Madison area, we generally do not fly over 2,400 feet above sea level, which is about 1,600 feet above the ground level. In rural areas, we may skim tree-tops or brush corn tassels. An occasional splash and dash may happen if weather conditions are perfect above a lake.
How Cold Is It Up There?
This is a real surprise to everyone. There is really no difference between the temperature on the ground and in the air at the altitudes at which we fly. We travel with the wind, so you are not dealing with a wind chill factor. Always dress to be outside based on the current temperature for the day you fly with us.
How Should I Dress For My Flight?
We suggest long pants and flat, closed toed shoes. In that the burners put out an immense amount of heat, you may wish to bring a cap.
How Long Is My Flight?
Flights range from 50 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on location of a landing site. Other determining factors include the amount of weight in the basket, the temperature of the day, and the humidity. We do not fly when the heat index is over 85 degrees.
Heat is hard on the equipment and also is not enjoyable for the passengers. We are required to be back on the ground before the morning winds start to increase and before sunset in the evening.
How Do You Steer A Balloon?
Very little steering is involved. We use the wind to steer. The wind speed and direction varies at different altitudes. As long as we know that, we can vary our altitude to catch the proper wind currents, but we really go where the wind takes us. There’s something nice about that, because hot air ballooning is not about where you end up, it’s about the journey you take to get there.
Is Ballooning Dangerous?
Actually, hot air ballooning is a lot less dangerous than driving a car, but the pilot needs to take proper safeguards (wind, weather, heat, etc.). It is the pilot’s discretion whether your flight is a “go” or a “no go.” If the winds are too strong (more than 8 to 10 miles per hour), we simply cancel. After all, “I’d rather be on the ground wishing I were in the air, than in the air wishing I were on the ground.”
Why Do Balloons Only Fly At Dusk And Dawn?
Dusk and dawn are really the only times the weather is conducive for balloon flying. At other times of the day when the sun strikes the ground, thermals are created, building up tricky air currents that make the air unsafe for passenger flight. The winds are calmest at sunrise and about two hours before sunset.
What If I Have Health Problems Or Restrictions?
Regretfully, balloon aviation cannot accommodate everyone.
We are strict with our policy. ABSOLUTELY NO PREGNANCIES. No recent surgeries, or back, leg, or hip problems.
Passengers must be able to stand for at least 1 1/2 hours. There are no chairs or benches in the basket.
No purses are allowed in the air. They can be left in the van if you wish, or you can lock them in your car trunk. Wear flat, closed-toed shoes and long pants.
Since the passenger gondola is high sided, we recommend that children be as tall as a kitchen counter so they can see. Everyone must be able to climb in and out of the basket with minimal assistance. If needed, a step stool is provided. Normal agility is required.
AIRCRAFT IS WEIGHT-SENSITIVE, SO BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT WHEN YOU ARE ASKED AT THE TIME YOU MAKE YOUR RESERVATION. WE ARE REQUIRED TO KNOW. We are unable to fly anyone over 250 pounds.
Prior to the pre-flight briefing, each passenger will be asked to sign a waiver and verify that they have no physical or psychological problems which would prohibit them from participating in the balloon flight.
Can I Bring My Camera?
Absolutely. Just remember to have fresh batteries and ample space on your memory card if using a digital camera. Camcorders are allowed. You might also like to bring binoculars. Cell phone usage while in the balloon, however, is prohibited.
Can My Friends Follow The Balloon?
Yes. They must have their own transportation. Children must be supervised during the inflation process and landing. Followers are not allowed onto any private property on which the balloon may land.
What Do I Do If My Flight Is Canceled?
Since ballooning is weather sensitive, cancellations and rescheduling are not uncommon. If your flight is canceled, we encourage you to call us immediately to make another reservation.
If you wish to cancel your reservation, you must do so at least 72 hours prior to your flight. Our policy is strict, because we have protected your reservation and under booked your flight.