Your first hot air balloon experience will be a memory you’ll never forget.
The thrill of quietly floating through the air among the birds is an experience like no other.
Riding in a hot air balloon is nothing like being on a plane. The gentle peace of the air around you cannot be compared to anything else.
If you’ve been considering your first hot air balloon experience, there are many things you should know before taking flight.
Read on and become an expert even before setting foot in your first hot air balloon.
If you’re deathly afraid of heights, a hot air balloon ride is probably not for you.
However, most people say that they felt very safe and secure during their flight. A balloon will never take flight without optimal weather conditions (more on that later), and your pilot is very well trained!
Although you won’t be strapped into the basket, it’s tall enough to come up to the rib cage of a person of average height. You’re not going to fall out unless you are being a right idiot.
When the balloon first begins to take off, you may feel a twinge of anxiety as the ground gets smaller and smaller.
The trick is to relax.
The altitude of most hot air balloon flights ranges from only just above the treetops to about 3,000 feet.
What Should You Wear?
Even in cool weather, you can expect your balloon ride to be hot. The balloon’s burners are sort of like standing near a hot bonfire.
No matter the forecasted temperature, prepare yourself with a few layers of clothing that you can remove when the ride starts to heat up.
Nothing will ruin a hot air balloon ride faster than sweating through the entire thing.
First, know that your pilot wants to take flight just as much as you do. However, when weather conditions are not optimal, he or she will not risk your safety.
Be prepared for your flight times to change. Even if you’re already on the launch field, a flight might need to be canceled without warning. It’s the pilot’s decision and they are the experts.
If winds reach 10 miles per hour or above, you won’t be flying that day. Additionally, any rain in the forecast will quickly end a scheduled flight.
Don’t worry though. You’ll get to take flight when the conditions are right.
Prepare to Stand
If you’re thinking about wearing those strappy heels on your flight, you might want to think again. There are no seats or chairs during a hot air balloon ride.
The best bet is to wear your most comfortable pair of athletic shoes or some cushy flip flops.
Your can expect your balloon ride to last 3 – 4 hours. Nobody wants to be standing with uncomfortable shoes for that amount of time.
Come prepared and get the most out of your first hot air balloon experience.
What About the Takeoff?
We’ve all seen dramatic TV or movie scenes where people are wildly jumping into the hot air balloon basket as it’s beginning to take off.
Of course, these scenes are not based in reality.
Expect your takeoff to be very gentle and smooth. Everything (and everybody) needed for the flight will be painstakingly loaded into the basket before it ever leaves the ground.
Your pilot is trained to make the takeoff a pleasurable experience. The feeling of slowly leaving the ground will take your breath away.
It is often also expected that you help set up the hot air balloon, so be prepared to work for your ride!
Don’t Drop Your Phone!
While you’re enjoying your first hot air balloon experience, you’re going to want to take a bunch of pictures.
The scenery is amazing.
However, when hovering at anywhere from 200 to 2,000 feet you’ll want to make sure your phone or camera doesn’t slip out of your hands and end up on the ground somewhere in the middle of the forest.
The best way to avoid this is by getting a wrist or neck strap that will keep your camera or phone secure and safe from harm.
The Basket Is Very Stable
You might be worried that the hot air balloon basket will start to sway when other passengers move around.
This simply isn’t true.
While there are baskets that can accommodate up to 20 people (and you obviously can’t control all of these people’s movements), these baskets weigh a tonne!
The stability of the hot air balloon basket is key to an enjoyable ride. Manufacturers understand this and make sure everyone feels stable and safe.
How Fast Will the Balloon Be Travelling?
Ever hear the term “as the wind blows”? This is how fast you will be traveling through the air.
This is the main reason why a trained pilot will not launch a balloon when wind speeds are in excess of 10 mph. It wouldn’t be safe.
Trained pilots pay very close attention to weather forecasts. They know what to expect before taking off.
In rare cases where wind speeds unexpectedly rise to an unsafe level, your pilot will get you safely on the ground in short order.
Floating at the pace of the wind is an incredible feeling. It’s one that will make your first hot air balloon experience something you will never forget.
Expect the landing to be a little bit bumpy.
Your pilot will give specific instructions for each passenger on what they need to do to make the landing as soft and comfortable as possible.
All you need to worry about is paying attention to the pilot and following his specific instructions for you as it relates to the landing.
Just like setting up the balloon, you might also be expected to help pack it away. It is quite a fun experience, and really interesting how they do it. As always, participation is your decision and no one is going to be upset if you don’t assist. However, the experience is well worth it and I definitely suggest getting involved.
Ending It with Some Bubbly
There’s a long-standing tradition of cracking open some champagne after a successful hot air balloon flight. If you’re lucky, it may even include a buffet breakfast or dinner!
Some even consider this a requirement to concluding the flight.
Even if you don’t drink alcohol, it is still nice to mingle with the other passengers and share some of your photos!
Your first hot air balloon experience will be something that you’ll never forget.
Being prepared and knowing what to expect will help make your experience even better.
Now go out there and book those balloon flights!