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WHAT DO I WEAR?

Sensible outdoor clothes as if you were going for a walk in the country. Do not wear skirts, shorts, synthetic fibres such as nylon and loose jewellery. Ideal footwear include flat shoes, or even better Wellingtons or walking boots, especially in Spring and Autumn, when fields may be damp. Temperatures in the air are warmer than those on the ground due to the heat of the burners so do take a hat to avoid the heat from the burners, particularly on evening flights.

IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT?

We have no upper age limit but ballooning is an outdoor sport requiring a degree of agility. We recommend that people should be fit enough to climb in and out of the basket and to stand for about an hour.

We use partitioned baskets specially designed to ensure safety, comfort and a superb view. Baskets are about 1.1 metres (42 inches) high, and have footholes to assist entry. Children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult on the flight and must be over 8 years old, and their height must exceed 1.4 metres (3'8"). In the interests of safety and operational requirements we cannot undertake the carriage of passengers whose declared weight exceeds 18 stone (114kg).

WHAT TIME OF DAY DO WE MEET?

Balloon flights are made either early morning or evening. Times depend on sunrise and sunset, so vary throughout the season. Typically in May, we meet you at 6am for morning flights, and 6pm for evening flights.

WHAT IS GOOD BALLOONING WEATHER?

For a successful flight we require light winds, no rain and good visibility. Call us at the time specified in your map pack to confirm if the weather permits us to fly, and if so the meeting time and place. Should we have to cancel your flight at short notice for reasons such as bad weather, we reschedule your flight as soon as possible to suit your timetable.

CAN I GIVE IT AS A GIFT?

Yes! A balloon flight makes a wonderful gift for a relative or friend for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, etc.

Our full colour gift vouchers are ideal to give them on the day and Home Counties and London vouchers are valid for 12 months from the date of purchase. The recipient then makes the flight at any time during our season. Or you may wish to arrange a complete surprise flight for a special date.

Is there a best time of year to fly ?
There is not a best time of year, we operate between October to April offering regular flights. Charter flights dependant on local conditions can be offered around the year.

Why do flights take place so early in the morning ? 
Balloons need stable winds to operate effectively and the hours just following sunrise are the best for finding these winds. Since balloons move with the air, the weather is very important in deciding to whether or not to fly. The pilot chooses a launch site to use the wind currents to fly towards a suitable landing site.

What are the capacity of passengers in each balloon
Generally you will be sharing your experience with between 4 to 12 people.

How are balloon pilots licensed ?

Balloons are registered like any other aircraft and are subject to regular airworthiness checks. The DGCA will not allow a balloon to be certified as airworthy unless these inspections and checks are done by authorized maintenance personnel and certified by them. All pilots are licensed and have to pass regular flight checks.

Who controls ballooning and ensures safety standards ?
The DGCA controls ballooning with the same strict regulations that apply to airplanes.

How is the balloon inflated ?
When the time comes to put the balloon up, the envelope is removed from the bag and laid out in a long line. The burners are attached to the uprights, and the basket is attached to the cables on the bottom of the envelope. An engine driven fan is used to inflate the envelope with cold air. When partially inflated, the air is heated by a burner and the envelope rises above the basket. With further heating, there is sufficient 'lift' for the balloon to fly.

Can I take a camera ?
Yes, there is no problem in taking either a still or video camera with you during the flight. A hot air balloon makes a perfect camera platform and there is always plenty to photograph prior to, during and after to the flight. We do recommend, however, that you have a suitable soft case with you in which to stow the camera during the landing phase of the flight.

What will happen if the weather is unsuitable on the day of our flight.
Ballooning is totally weather dependant, our pilots make the final decision based on safety as to whether the balloon flight may go ahead. If it is cancelled you may be able to switch your flight to the next available day or if that is not possible you will receive a full refund of your booking fee.  No refund is payable for charter flights.

Will it be cold and what should I wear for the flight
Depending on the time of year you fly will have a bearing on the temperature, for instance between late November and early February, temperatures first thing in the morning may require you to wear a jacket. You should wear whatever you feel comfortable in. There is really no need to dress up. You should wear the type of clothing that you would expect to wear if you be going for a walk the day of the flight. Women should wear pants or shorts.  Layered clothing is much better than a heavy coat. Shoes should have flat soles, and the majority of top clothing should be made of cotton rather than man-made fibers. Tall passengers may find a hat useful because of the heat from the burners.

How long does it all take?

From start to finish, your adventure will last about 2 hours plus transfer time from and to your hotel. The inflation and preparation of the balloon normally takes about 30 minutes. The flight itself normally takes around one hour. After the flight, the ceremonies take about 30 minutes and travel to and from the hotel will take about another 30 minutes or so each way. The balloons always carry sufficient fuel for at least 2 hours flight time plus a 30 minute reserve capacity.

What height does the balloon fly at
The balloon will operate at any height between ground level and 5000ft depending on local aviation guidelines. Our pilots will do their best to ensure that you experience the wonderful views as well as the experience of skimming the trees and the fields.

Where will we land ?
The simple answer is that nobody knows, exactly! The pilot will have done flight planning before the launch to ensure that the forecast wind direction does not take the balloon towards an unsuitable area. S/he will use the different air currents at different altitudes to steer the balloon toward a good landing place. The pilot also closely follows agreements with local landowners. This means that the balloon won't fly too close to livestock or land in areas planted with valuable crops.

How far will we fly

It depends on the wind speed. Hot Air Balloons travel with the wind and an hour flight can carry it up to 15 kilometers, sometimes more, sometimes less. The balloon also flies at different altitudes. Although the balloon is at the mercy of the wind when it comes to direction, the vertical control of a balloon can be very precise. It is not unusual for our pilots to be able to brush the bottom of the basket across the tops of brush, or inches from the ground A leaf picked from a treetop is a very worthwhile souvenir of the flight!

How does the chase crew know where we are ?

Radios are used to stay in contact with the retrieval crew as well as with Air Traffic Control.

What if I'm afraid of heights ?
Flying in a high sided balloon basket is not like standing in a roof or a high ladder. You don't get that vertigo feeling. It is more like the ground is unfolding beneath you, and, because you are moving with the wind, there is no wind blowing. The basket does not rock or sway so you can't possibly fall out.

I sometimes get airsick in airplanes. Is a balloon the same ?

No. The turbulence which usually causes motion sickness is completely absent in a balloon ride. The flight of a balloon is almost too smooth to describe.

How do you steer a balloon ?  

The balloon goes wherever the wind takes it. However, pilots can seek higher or lower altitudes to find wind currents of various direction. We refer to it as the truest form of sailing. 

Is it cold in a balloon ? 
At high altitude, it is colder than at ground level, generally 3.5 degrees colder for each 1,000 feet of altitude.

What instruments do balloons use ?  

An altimeter to indicate altitude, a variometer showing its rate of climb or decent, a compass to show directions, and a temperature gage to show how hot the fabric is at the top of the balloon. Each propane tank has a fuel gauge, and the burner has a fuel pressure gauge.

 
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