Frequently Asked Questions
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The main flying season is from the 1st May to the end of October and our winter flight's run from January-March. Flights are available mornings and evenings during the week and at weekends. During the winter months we often fly during the day.
There is no 'best time' to fly, we will only fly when the weather is suitable. Do not be misled into thinking that it is best to go in 'the summer' because you think that other times might be cold, it is far warmer on the flight than you imagine owing to there being no breeze, plus you have the radiated heat from the burners.
Balloon flights usually take place within two hours of dawn and around two hours before dusk, as this is when the thermals are most stable. Times do vary throughout the year but during the summer meeting times are around 6am and 6pm. This will be confirmed when you call the check in line prior to your flight.
Maps will be sent with your booking packs and full meeting instructions will be given to you when you call the check in line prior to your flight. It is very important that you arrive at the meeting point at the correct time.
Ballooning is an experience NOT to be rushed. You should allow approximately 3 to 4 hours per flight. The actual time in the air is approximately one hour. Passengers are invited to participate in the pre and post flight preparation and dismantling of the balloon and this is all part of the experience.
Ballooning is very weather dependent. You will be asked to telephone the Check In Line prior to the flight to check the weather. If It is unsuitable, you simply rebook for another convenient day. A decision regarding morning flights will be made after 11.00pm the night before and a decision regarding afternoon flights will be made approximately 2 hours before the meeting time. When you book your flight you will be advised what time to call the Check In Line on the day of your flight.
No. If we consider the weather to be safe, the flight will take place. If you wish to postpone your flight date you must give the minimum period of notice in accordance with our terms and conditions. If you decide not to turn up or do not give the required notice you will lose your entitlement to a balloon flight.
Seven days notice is required should you wish to alter a booked date, failure to do so could result in forfeit of your entitlement to book another date.
The temperature in the air is usually the same as on the ground so clothing suitable for a country walk is ideal like trousers, long sleeves and flat shoes - and natural fibres are better than nylon. A hat or a cap is useful to protect your head from the heat of the burners. Also don't forget to bring your camera and twice as much film or an extra memory card!! If flying during the winter dressing in layers is the best option.
Standing in a hot air balloon doesn't feel the same as standing on the edge of a cliff or being in an aeroplane - you're floating gently along with the breeze so there's no sensation of movement. The balloon doesn't so much as leave the ground as the ground leaves the balloon! You'll feel no acceleration or movement as you do in a lift or aeroplane. We float gently along with the wind, ballooning is a calm and still experience. back to top
Spectators are welcome to watch the balloon launch, but it's our retrieval crew who are responsible for following the hot air balloon, meeting it on landing and taking you back to the launch site.
We normally reach between 500 and 2,500 feet high - and where allowed, we skim the treetops or climb to over 5,000 feet.
Where the hot air balloon flies is entirely dependent on the wind, no two flights are the same, so it's not always possible to fly over a particular house, town or village. If you see balloons over your house, you maybe lucky and the wind maybe in the right direction!
It's best to book two or three weeks in advance for weekday flights and earlier for more popular weekend, evening and long weekend flights but we sometimes have flights at short notice so please call and check.
On a standard flight you will join a group of 6 people. The balloon baskets are divided into compartments for your safety. Exclusive, private flights for 2 passengers are available. Telephone for further information.
After your flight, we'll present you with a personalised certificate signed by your pilot.
Yes, and twice as much film or additional memory cards as you think you might need, the views are spectacular. You are responsible for looking after your camera and personal possessions.
There is no upper age limit, passengers must be able to climb in and out of the basket which is about 42 inches high (1.1m) and stand for at least one hour. Children must be at least 10 years old and be 1.4m tall (4'6"), a child under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult. Due to safety and operational requirements we cannot fly passengers whose weight exceeds 114kg.
Unfortunately we are unable to take you if you are pregnant. If you find out that you are pregnant during the validity of your voucher, please contact us and we will be able to extend the voucher by 9 months.
If you have a disability, medical condition or have recently received surgery it's best to check with your doctor first to ensure you're fit to fly. However, we're unable to fly anyone who is confined to a wheelchair. We may ask you to provide proof of your fitness to fly from your doctor. It is very important that you disclose any medical or physical condition that could be considered to affect your safety or the safety of others. You must not fly if you are under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 GPS and topographical maps, and our crew are also trained in the use of these to make the retrieve easier.
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 Ontario Balloon Rides Ltd after extensive experience has been gained on the types of balloons flown by us.
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Give us a call to book your hot air balloon ride or to get more information.CALL 519 998 3580