The flight usually takes around an hour (the precise time depends on the weather conditions and relief, over which the flight is taking place). The complete process - preparation, take off, the flight, landing, packing up and coming back – might take up to three hours and more (it takes at least half an hour for the passengers to get ready and at least a day for the pilots). Usually, the crew consists of an air balloon pilot, the ground captain and assistant(s). The time required to prepare before and pack up after the flight is greatly influenced by the passengers themselves. The crew is very grateful for enthusiastic passengers who are willing to help out.
In order to fly for an hour, the air balloon requires anywhere from a hundred up to three hundred liters of gas (the amount depends on the size of the balloon). Air balloons are controlled using two devices: a burner and a valve. The burner heats the air which lifts the balloon and the valve is used to let the hot air out, making the air balloon to descend. An air balloon can fly distances from 10km to 20km, depending on the speed of the wind and it always flies downwind. That is why when flying at a constant height, the passengers do not feel any wind in the cabin. Usually, the air balloons are not flown during hot summer afternoons. The sun doesn’t heat the surface of the earth equally and thus creates intensive vertical air currents (thermics). Therefore, the flights are usually scheduled at the beginning of sundown, as the strength of the wind is lower and vertical air currents lessen. It is also possible to take off before or during the sunrise, as the heat from the sun is not as intense. However, during the summer time it means taking off as early as 4 A.M! The exact time of departure is confirmed just hours prior the flight as it helps to choose the suitable location, evaluate the weather conditions and acquire a permit from air traffic control institution. On some occasions, the flight can be cancelled right before the departure due to a sudden change in weather conditions, such as formation of storm clouds (cumulonimbus). It is pointless to try and wait it out as the flights are not conducted after sundown.
Air balloon can reach the heights over 10km and above, however, it is flown at the height of 1km. This is because of lack of oxygen which humans start to experience at 3km. At the 1km height the temperature is similar to that on the ground (it might vary a couple degrees). Therefore, one does not need additional gear to enjoy the experience. The flights with the air balloon aren’t physically demanding, hence physical preparation is not required. Those who get sick when taking off and landing with a plane do not have to worry – the air balloon takes off and descends much slower than the plane and does not inflict such ill feelings. However, if you have any medical conditions, we strongly advise you to consult your doctor prior taking the flight.
Since meteorological conditions are hard to predict, it is impossible to pin point the exact location for landing. The preparation stage of an air balloon is as mesmerizing as the fight itself and the passengers are encouraged to join the crew as it assembles the balloon.
The process of lifting the balloon up in the air is incredible. Watch as a giant piece of cloth, lying on the grass, is inflated via powerful ventilator and slowly becomes a colorful air balloon dome as the pilot warms it with bursts of fire. Strong wind gusts are felt during the departure and landing, therefore, we advise you to wear full-on shoes, take a hat and keep your cameras close to you or hidden under the clothes and leave other equipment on the ground. When in air, such precautions are not necessary and passengers can enjoy the experience as they wish.
At the end of the flight, the pilot reaches out to the team on the ground using a radio and tells them where he is planning to land the air balloon. When balloon lands, the valve is opened to release the remaining hot air. After that, the dome is packed along with the rest of the equipment and it is time to call cheers!