How do you steer? Balloons are not "steerable" in the conventional sense of the word, but the pilot has some control over direction of travel based on the different wind layers at different altitudes. Reading the winds is one of the fun and challenging parts of flying a balloon.
How far do you fly? Since a balloon floats with the wind, the distance a balloon flies depends on wind speed. Usually different altitudes have different layers of wind with varying wind speed and direction, so flight track and distance are dependent upon which layers the pilot chooses to use. But on average, in Charlottesville, the balloon usually travels between 5 to 10 miles during a flight.
How high do you go? Typical hot air balloons have the capacity to go as high as 15,000 to 18,000 feet (as long as the occupants have oxygen), but our usual flight ranges from treetop height to about 2,000 feet above the ground.
When do balloons fly? Ballooning is extremely wind and weather sensitive, so we fly in the early mornings at sunrise and (sometimes) late afternoons a few hours before sunset. This is when the winds tend to be the most calm and favorable, avoiding the instability caused by the sun as it heats the ground at midday. It is possible to fly balloons year round, though the weather tends to be less cooperative during the winter months.
Where do you launch? We use a variety of launch sites in and around Charlottesville. Since the area is relatively wooded and at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where we launch on any given flight depends on wind speed and direction. We're careful to use whichever launch site lines us up for the most favorable landing opportunities downwind!
How long does a flight last? Our balloon flights usually last about an hour, but due to the nature of ballooning the time can vary a little on either side of an hour. The whole event from start to finish usually lasts around three hours, so be flexible with your schedule on the day of the flight.
Will I get air sick? No. Since we are drifting along with the wind, there is very little sensation of movement. Our ascents and descents are usually gradual enough that it's difficult to even detect the change in altitude. Ballooning is really nothing like any other form of flight; it's an experience you are bound to enjoy!
What are the weight restrictions? Weight restrictions depend on several factors, including ambient temperature and relative humidity, as well as the number of people on a flight. Generally speaking, the hotter and more humid it is, the less weight the balloon can carry, so the answer to this question is different at different times of the year! Please call for more details.
What should I wear, is it colder in a balloon? Dress comfortably for a balloon ride; skirts and dress shoes are not recommended! Jeans and sneakers or hiking boots are the best attire, since we may experience field conditions including wet or tall grass. The temperature in the balloon is very similar to that on the ground, but it's advisable to bring a sweater or jacket for cool mornings or evenings.
How far in advance do you need to book a flight? We take bookings for the current calendar year, so you can book as far in advance as you like! On the other hand, we take last minute bookings as well, and will do our best to accommodate everyone. Usually if you call a few weeks ahead of the time you'd like to fly, you'll have plenty of options. (The notable exception is during peak foliage season; October weekends usually fill up well in advance, so plan ahead!)
I am afraid of heights, will I be able to enjoy my balloon ride? While we never try to talk anyone into joining us for a flight, if you think you'll enjoy it, you will! For many people, the difficulty is actually a fear of edges rather than a fear of heights... think rooftops, tall buildings, ladders, etc. When you have a physical point of contact with the ground, your brain is more likely to make the connection and register a degree of fear. In flight, however, there is that mental and physical disconnect that allows your mind and body to experience a new sensation without much fear. Five minutes into the flight, you'll be wondering why you were ever afraid! Also, unlike in a fixed wing aircraft, there is very little sensation of movement either horizontally or vertically. If you closed your eyes, you'd never know you were flying.
How does the flight crew know where the balloon is going to land? Since a balloon rides on the air currents and they are subject to change through out the flight, the pilot and crew are not able to choose a predetermined landing zone. This means that the pilot and flight crew have to be in communication through out the flight so the flight crew can be directed to the landing zone.This is done with two way radios.
Phone: 434.589.6213. email: firstname.lastname@example.org Copyright © Blue Ridge Balloon LLC 2000 - 2011