left spacer
   Telephone: 01952 212750   email: sales@airborneballoons.co.uk Blue Aqua Spacer

Popular Questions

  When do the hot air balloons fly?

Our normal season is from March to November inclusive, with morning flights taking off about one hour after sunrise, and evening flights about two hours before sunset.

  Why so early or late in the day?

Balloon flights are more enjoyable, and safer, in the gentlest of winds. By flying at the beginning and end of the day, we avoid the stronger and more turbulent winds created when the sun has warmed the air around us, creating thermals and sea breezes.

  How long does the flight last?

The balloon flight itself generally lasts for 45 minutes to 1 hour. Our aim, however is to make your trip one of the most memorable experiences possible, and thus you should allow a total of at least 4 hours to accommodate the additional procedures and celebrations.

  What should I wear?

Preferably, clothing made of natural fibres suitable for a country walk at the time of year - trousers and long sleeves, and sturdy or waterproof footwear. The temperature in the air will be similar to that on the ground.

  Why isn’t possible to select a take-off site until day of the flight?

Hot air balloons are carried by the breeze, and therefore we will not know the direction of travel until we obtain our final weather forecast a few hours before the flight. Once the details are to hand, we can select the take-off site best located to give a safe and lengthy flight.

  What happens if the weather is not suitable on the day?

The balloon flight is simply arranged for another date convenient to you - most people fly on their first chosen date, the remainder within just a few attempts.

  What if the weather changes while we are in the air?

We will only fly if we can be certain that the weather will be perfect for the flight. Before each flight, our teams obtain highly detailed weather forecasts from established meteorological centres such as Bracknell and Bristol, which are cross-referenced with other as well as other, equally detailed, forecasts from other sources. These forecasts are extremely accurate over the short time that we intend to be in the air and thus we are able to be as certain as we can be that we will not experience any deterioration in the weather during the flight.

  What is the landing going to be like?

One of the main reasons for choosing to fly at the beginning and end of the day is to ensure a landing speed as low as possible. The vast majority of hot air balloon landings are so gentle, passengers have been known to break out in spontaneous applause at the pilot's apparent skill and dexterity. Very occasionally, the balloon will have a landing speed that is just fast enough to create a short drag or landing run, giving rise to a few gentle bumps coming to rest.

  How far will we fly?

The distance we fly will be dictated by the windspeed at higher altitudes, but you can expect to travel about between 8 and 15 miles on average.

  Can family and friends follow?

Certainly, although in practice we find that the majority of people prefer to await the return of the balloon and passengers to the take-off site.

  Can I take a camera or video recorder?

In fact, we recommend it - and don't forget to bring a spare film! Please note, however that personal effects are carried at your own risk and we cannot accept any responsibility for loss or damage to the equipment. You will be asked to turn off any mobile telephones before take-off, as these are a potential hazard to our fuel systems and navigation equipment.

  What about insurance?

Airborne Balloon Flights Ltd is fully insured at Lloyds for personal and third party risks, and your own personal policies are normally unaffected by the activity. As previously mentioned, personal effects are not covered by our policies, but again your normal insurance arrangements usually remain valid.

  Are there any age limits?

Providing you are reasonably fit and mobile, age is not a limiting factor. We often fly people in their 80's and above. Children are also very welcome, but we would suggest that they should be at least 1.4 metres tall to see over the basket.

Technical Questions 

  What is a balloon made of?

There are four main components of a modern hot air balloon.

The Envelope:
The main part of the envelope is made of an extremely tough and hardwearing nylon material. The lower panels are normally made with Nomex, a scorch resistant fabric. The weight of the equipment carried beneath the envelope is spread evenly over the surface by a series of ultra-strong webbing load tapes and wires.

The Burner: The balloons equivalent of an engine. All our balloons are powered by at least a twin burner unit, which have a power output of some 20,000,000 Btu.

The Fuel System: Our fuel is liquid propane, carried in stainless steel fuel cylinders, and vaporised a split second before being ignited by a pilot flame.

The Basket: Traditionally constructed in cane and willow, reinforced with steel cables, and topped with suede, our baskets have partitions and padding to carry our passengers in elegant comfort.

  Can you steer a balloon?

Yes and no - a balloon will always travel with the wind, and of course we cannot beat back into it. The wind direction, however, is normally different at height to that on the ground and the skilful pilot will use that variation to alter the downwind track as required. The general rule is that the wind will change direction to the right as it climbs - watch out for the effect on your flight.

  How do you land a balloon?

Instead of using the burners to keep the balloon aloft, the pilot will allow the balloon to cool just enough to start a controlled descent, with the rate of descent adjusted by the burners as required. On landing, the pilot will operate a 'parachute' deflation system to let enough hot air out to hold the balloon on the ground until the retrieve crew arrive.

  Do you have to speak to Air Traffic Control?

No, providing we stay clear of airways and airport control areas. The large clear spaces between and under the controlled areas are free airspace, and we are allowed to operate without being in touch with air traffic units.

  How do you navigate?

At the slow speed that a balloon travels, combined with the tremendous distance that you can see at height, navigation is in fact quite straightforward. We use standard Ordinance Survey maps, and our crew are also trained in the use of these to make the retrieve easier.

  How do you get to be a pilot?

The majority of pilots start out as private pilots, having qualified in smaller balloons and building up hours flying friends and family, perhaps then gaining some commercial experience by flying display balloons. A commercial pilot will have undergone a further series of examinations and flight tests, and is then only likely to be employed by Airborne after extensive experience has been gained on the types of balloons flown by us.

  Who governs Airborne and other operators?

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) maintains overall control, with most of the administrative duties delegated to the British Balloon and Airship club. Airborne has been granted an Air Operators Certificate by the CAA, who also undertake annual inspections of our pilots, equipment and administration.


Click here to purchase an Airborne balloon ride
Request a brochure from Airborne
Ask general or technical questions from Airborne
Check the weather forecast from the Met Office online
Event Lighting Services
Blue Aqua Spacer © 2014 Airborne Balloon Flights Ltd Blue Aqua Spacer
right spacer
Photo Gallery Video Gallery