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Planning a Hot Air Balloon Adventure



Author: Kidslovevacations

There are many places where you can enjoy a memorable hot-air balloon flight such as Australia, New Zealand, United States and United Kingdom. To have a successful flight, there is much work to be done and the experience of the pilot to understand the appropriate wind direction is extremely important. Besides maneuvering the balloon, he has to keep in close contact with the members of the hot air balloon crew, whose task is to collect the passengers and the equipment. During the flight, the pilot will look out for a possible landing site with sufficient space to lay out the balloon. If you are planning for a balloon adventure, the following are some considerations to note :

1. What are the regulations and safety precautions in place ?
Balloons are required to be a fully registered aircraft with the country's civil aviation and safety authority and they must be subjected to regular airworthiness checks. Pilots need to have sufficient experience before they are allowed to fly with larger balloons. During the flight, the pilot will rely on the radios links to keep in contact with the chase crew as well as with Air Traffic Control and other aircraft flying in the vicinity. You will be given a passenger safety briefing prior to the flight and get a chance to prepare the balloon with the crew.

2. Are there any restrictions on children ?
Different operators will have different age restrictions. Sometimes, children as young as 5 years are allowed to fly; while others only accept a minimum age of 12.

3. Are there any health restrictions ?
You need to inform the operating company of your health problems such as knee, leg, hip or back pains. This is important as it may affect your safety during the flight. Women with more than 12 weeks of pregnancy may be ineligible to fly. You must be able to get in and out of the basket without much effort.

4. How many passengers are allowed for a flight ?
The number of passengers permissible usually depends on the size of the balloon. Balloon operators can carry from two to 10 or more passengers at a time. There are compartments in the balloon baskets, and there will be a specific number in any one compartment.

5. How should I dress for the occasion ?
You are advised to dress warmly and casually. Don't forget to bring a sweater or a jacket as it gets colder by about 3.5 degrees colder for each 1,000 feet of altitude. You should wear shoes with flat soles, and your top clothing should be made of cotton rather than man-made fibers. Tall passengers should wear a hat to protect themselves from the radiant heat from the burners.

6. What else must I bring ?
You must bring your camera with lots of film. Do bring along a suitable soft case to stow the camera during the landing.

7. What if I am afraid of heights ?
If you are afraid of heights, please inform the pilot prior to the flight so that he can stay low until you are comfortable. There should be no turbulence as the balloon moves with the wind.

8. Under what conditions will the flight be postponed ?
A good flight is always worth the wait. Be prepared for the flight to be postponed if weather conditions are bad. You are always welcome to rebook another date. If a cancellation is likely, the operator may notify you either the evening before, or on the morning of the flight.

9. How long is the entire adventure ?
Generally, the flight takes an hour to complete.

10. Other things to note : There are no toilet facilities aboard and please observe the non-smoking rule. Sometimes, the operator may be able to arrange breakfast, a champagne toast and refreshments on the balloon.

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