Policies & Requirements
The lifting capacity of a hot air balloon varies depending on several different factors such as the size of the balloon, air temperature at flight time, and relative humidity. At standard temperature and air pressure, the balloons we fly can accommodate the pilot plus 4-5 average sized adult passengers. Because of the wide range of temperatures throughout our flying season, it’s impossible for us to give a set weight limit. However, our general guideline is that individuals over 250 pounds or any group of two with a combined weight over 425 pounds needs to call regarding reservations. We want everyone to be able to enjoy the ballooning experience, so we will do our best to work with you to make that happen within the confines of safety!
We recommend that children less than 7 years of age should NOT be pushed into flying in a balloon. Many youngsters are frightened of the noise of the burner. Others will be bored by the experience. Also, since our insurance limits the number of persons carried (not the number of pounds), our price is the same for little ones as for big ones! The little ones will grow up too soon anyway…let them wait for their balloon ride until they will really enjoy it. We will still be here.
Elderly or frail passengers
We have carried many. Do not assume you can’t take the flight you have always dreamed of!
But as calm and placid as a balloon flight may be, it can also turn into a fairly athletic experience with a small increase of wind speed upon landing. So we ask that elderly or frail passengers be sure to get their doctor’s approval before the flight. Further, it is absolutely essential that you let us know in advance of any physical limitations that might affect your participation. Your pilot may need to take your situation into consideration in deciding whether today is the right day for your flight.
We will do our best to reschedule any flight that is cancelled by weather. If a mutually satisfactory reschedule is not possible, your payment is refundable. WE ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WEATHER! All flight safety decisions are at the sole discretion of the Pilot In Command, and his or her decision is final.
We do not overbook our flights, like the airlines do. When we reserve a space for you, we count on your presence on that flight. Cancellations less than 72 hours in advance will be charged at the full price, unless special dispensation has been approved.
Per FAA regulations, intoxicated persons are not allowed on any flight. No refund will be issued.
Gift certificates are issued without an expiration date, but we ask that they be used within one year. If certificates are redeemed more than a year after the date of purchase, any price difference (if applicable) will be due at flight time. Gift certificates are non refundable, and redemption is subject to the same medical and weight restrictions as all of our flight reservations. Gift certificates are fully transferrable.
Our goal is to reach about an hour of airborne time on each passenger flight, but we cannot guarantee this. Your pilot will be considering many safety factors as he or she determines when to make the final landing. Your flight could be a little less or a little more than the time we aim for. By the time we prepare and inflate the balloon beforehand, fly the flight, land, pack up the balloon, conduct our flight celebration afterward, and drive back to the launch site, expect the total experience to take 3 to 4 hours.
Any and all personal information such as telephone numbers, email or residence address, etc. that we acquire in the course of our dealings will only be used to facilitate our business relationship with you and we will not sell or share that information with anyone else.
Assumption of Risk and Release of Liability
Please make yourself familiar with the Adult Release of Liability & Assumption of Risk Agreement (PDF). Use the link at the bottom of this page to sign your waiver online. Or if you prefer, you may download it, print it out, sign it, and bring it with you to the flight.
If you have any questions regarding the suitability of ballooning for you or someone in your party, please call us at 434-589-6213. We have included general guidelines here, but since every situation and person is unique, this is by no means a comprehensive list.
A balloon flight is usually a very gentle, beautiful, peaceful, serene experience. Therefore we have been able to share this experience with hundreds of handicapped, aged, fragile, frail, and terminally ill people. We have flown several people in wheel chairs, including a bilateral amputee just learning to regain use of his prosthetic limbs!
A balloon flight can become a fairly rigorous athletic adventure with a minor increase in wind speed. If the wind reaches 6 to 8 mph during the takeoff process, the balloon will sway in the breeze, causing the basket to tilt sideways, back and forth. This tilting stops when the balloon becomes airborne, but the same 6 to 8 mph of wind (or any greater wind) will again cause excitement on landing. Even with perfect pilot technique, these winds will cause the basket to bump and drag along the ground during landing. The pilot may have to deflate the balloon to control the bumping and dragging, which will cause the entire balloon to gradually tilt over on its side and lie down on the ground. Pilot and passengers remain low in the basket, hang on, relax, and lie over with the basket as it tilts. This bouncing and dragging might be similar to standing on the second step of a stepladder and jumping to the ground. This type of windy landing is rare here in Central Virginia, but is still considered a “normal operation” and we always explain and discuss this procedure in our pre-flight briefing.
THE BOTTOM LINE
It is the passenger’s responsibility to advise us of any physical or other limitation when scheduling the flight. We should know of any bad back, bad knee, pregnancy, recent surgery, illness, or other limiting factor! Any questionable condition must be cleared with your doctor before the flight. It is the pilot’s responsibility to exercise extra care with fragile passengers. The more fragile the passenger, the more nearly perfectly calm the wind conditions must be, or the flight must be postponed.