Hot Air Ballooning
Hot Air Ballooning
Hot air ballooning combines elements of romance, exhilaration, nature and adventure in equal proportions and is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It is the oldest form of flight and is widely recognised as one of the safest.
Hot air ballooning involves floating in the wind underneath a balloon that is inflated by propane burners heating up air. Anywhere from two to twenty passengers stand in an open basket, taking in unmatched 360° views of villages, towns, countryside and even wildlife. Because balloons move with the wind, the experience is relaxing and there is very little sensation of movement. Hot air balloon rides usually involve option extras such as nature-spotting, picnics or champagne for special occasions.
Trips often take place in the morning, not only because of the views and sense of quiet, but because balloons need cool, stable winds to operate effectively and the post-sunrise hours are best suited for this. As the only form of flight that moves with the wind, the weather is extremely important. The pilot doesn’t actually steer, but instead utilises wind currents to sail towards an appropriate landing site. He or she raises and lowers the hot air balloon as needed by controlling the temperature inside the balloon with propane burners.
Most hot air balloon trips are accompanied by a chase vehicle, which follows the vessel to its landing site. A large truck and crew will follow the balloon to its resting place to aid the landing by catching a drop line and guiding the balloon down, packing up the equipment and returning passengers to their starting point.
Fancy doing something a bit different? Find a ballooning location near you below.
- Low cost per person compared with other forms of powered flight
- Fly from most open areas
- Leisurely way to fly
- Weather dependent
- High ownership cost and depreciation
- Need to be an early-riser
Training & Qualifications
Before a test flight with a British Balloon & Airship Club (BBAC) examiner to obtain your license, you will need to have a minimum of 16 hours dual flight training over a period of two to six months.
Balloon schools offer training from novice to commercial pilot level or another popular option is to join a syndicate alongside an experienced pilot to obtain the flight hours required for your Private Pilot’s License (PPL) from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
Amongst the simplest form of flying machines, balloons have changed little over the past 200 years.
An envelope is filled with air which is heated to produce lift. Participants are in a woven basket with a burner and aluminium tanks containing propane which are used to power the burner.