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First Hot Air Balloon Flight

Q: WHAT SHOULD WEAR FOR MY BALLOON FLIGHT?A: Hot air balloons tend to fly in remote and rural areas, so it best to wear durable outdoor clothing. Closed-toed shoes, like boots or sneakers are a must, as the balloon might land in rough or wet terrain. Early morning flights might be chilly on the ground, but it is important to remember that it will be warmer inside the basket. It is best to wear layers, so you can adjust to a comfortable temperature. Long pants in both summer and winter are recommended to protect your legs from the cold and sticker bushes in the landing site.

First Manned Hot Air Balloon Flight

Q: WHY IS THERE A MAXIMUM WEIGHT LIMIT ON PASSENGERS?
A: Every Balloon has a maximum level of weight it can carry. This weight is affected by the ambient temperature around the balloon and at what altitude it is flying. Before a flight, the pilot uses the passenger’s weight to decide how many people can go in each basket. Weight limitations will vary from one commercial ride company to another. Please contact the company you plan to fly with for the maximum weight of your flight.

Early style balloon with flags, in flight

Q: WHAT ABOUT BAD WEATHER?
A: Weather is a very important factor in hot air ballooning safely. Winds both on the ground and aloft, temperature, pressure systems, rain and fog all play crucial roles in a pilots decision to fly. Most commercial ride companies require passengers to call-in the day before a flight to check weather conditions. If a flight is canceled due to weather, Sky Drifters will reschedule the flight for another day or may offer a refund if another day is not available. BEWARE of companies that sell rides that are NOT refundable if there is a weather cancellation.

Montgolfier's first hot air balloon flight

Q: HOW MANY PEOPLE FIT IN A BALLOON?
A: Some hot air balloons can hold up to 30 passengers. Here at Sky Drifters we have chosen to keep the experience personal and limit the size of our balloons to a maximum of four to five passengers. Hot air balloons vary in both envelope and basket sizes. Contact the ride company you plan to ride with for questions regarding the number of passengers you will be flying with.

Early style balloon with flags, in flight over water

Q: WHAT WILL A PASSENGER SEE DURING A PLEASURE OR ROMANTIC FLIGHT?
A: Rolling Northern California foothills and heritage ranch lands! Depending on the flight direction, passengers will see beautiful vineyards, wild land conservation areas, lush green farms or all of the above. In the morning hours native wild life is incredibly active, giving passengers a chance to view herds of deer, coyotes and ducks among many other species. Bring your camera and plenty of space for pictures!

Early style balloon with netting

Q: HOW FAR DOES A BALLOON TRAVEL?
A: The distance a balloon covers depends heavily on the wind speed in the area it is flying. The average pleasure or romantic flight can range anywhere from three miles and up to ten miles from the launch site.

Early style balloon with netting, lifting -off from a green field

Q: HOW LONG IS AN AVERAGE BALLOON FLIGHT?
A: Usually a balloon flight lasts about an hour. At an average wind speed of about 5 mph, a balloon will fly 2 – 8 miles. Ground crews follow the balloon, talking on the radio with the pilot. The balloon will land in an open area with the ground crew there to help recover the equipment and to take the pilot and passengers back to the launch site.

Early style balloon with netting, with two happy passengers

Q: WHY DO BALLOONS FLY IN EARLY MORNING AND LATE EVENING?
A: Winds are generally calm and favorable the first hours after sunrise and the last hours before sunset. The sun’s uneven heating of the earth’s surface causes strong, variable winds making afternoon flights unpredictable. In the morning, it takes a few hours to heat the earth’s surface enough to generate the thermal activity that creates wind. In the evening, the sun’s intensity has diminished enough to reduce winds to acceptable flight levels. Ideal winds for commercial flights are 3-6 mph.

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