What to expect on a hot air balloon ride.
Several factors have made hot air ballooning one of the fastest growing adventure ride items and hottest gift tickets around in the last 20 years. With more than 70,000 passengers flown in the UK alone every year.
Sir Richard Branson and his well publicized Atlantic and Pacific crossings and numerous round the world attempts. All kept hot air balloons in the public eye.
The successful round the world flight of Brian Jones and Bertrand Piccard caught the imagination of millions.
Balloon operators in Africa have made magic carpet rides over the Serengeti and Maasi Mara ecosystem possible for many thousands of people.
Perhaps this is why the people of Britain voted Hot air balloon rides ballooning as the number 7 thing to do before you die! A poll that certainly caused an upward blip in the number of passengers flown.
Modern technology has also made taking a passenger ride in a hot air balloon much safer. Advanced burner designs, giving more powerful flames. Much better pilot lights that keep burning. Baskets especially designed for the carriage of passengers.
Above all modern fabrics that are not only stronger but more able to combat the effects of Ultra Violet Light and mould and mildew. Yes the balloons just like your tent if you get it wet, rots.
At this point I should admit that I am a hot air balloon pilot.
Ballooning has been kind to me and taken me to all points of the globe.
Australia, Thailand, France, England, Kenya and South Africa all balloon flights have similar requirements.
Wherever you are in the world.
I hope to be able to answer some queries and maybe allay some fears in this article. These are the questions I am asked all the time.
Do you have a pilots licence?
Yes balloon pilots have taken written exams just like their fixed wing friends but they have taken the flying test in a balloon instead. In some countries, notably the United Kingdom and Australia there are also fairly strict commercial pilot’s licences and annual flying tests to be undertaken. (You’ve guessed it I have UK and Australian licences) Coupled with this in most countries the balloon company will also have to have an Air Operators Certificate. This or its equivalent is issued by the local aviation authority. An inspector will have checked all the aircraft and pilot paperwork and made sure that the company employs safety systems.