Q. What is a Hot-Air Balloon?
A. A Hot-Air Balloon consists of three main components: the envelope which is the big fabric bag that most people think of when talking about balloons; the basket, where the pilot and passengers stand during the flight; and, finally, the burner that heats the air to make the balloon fly. The burner does the same job in a balloon that the engine does in the family car.
Q. What is the balloon made from?
A. The envelope is made out of rip-stop nylon, similar to that used in parachutes. The fabric has a special coating to keep the hot air from escaping. The basket is handwoven wicker, as a nod to tradition. Wicker is universally preferred by manufacturers because, even today, wicker provides the best combination of any material available: it is both lightweight and durable.
Q. What type of fuel is used by the burner?
A. The burner uses propane, the same fuel that many people use to heat their homes. We typically carry approximately 30 gallons of propane (more in competition) and will burn between 15 and 20 gallons on a typical flight.
Q. How big is a Hot-Air Balloon?
A. Our current balloons are 90,0000 cubic feet and 104,000 cubic feet in volume, and are about 60-70 feet tall (roughly the height of a 6-7 story building).
Q. How long does a balloon last?
A. Balloons, like other aircraft, record the number of hours flown in a log book. The number of hours flown is similar to the odometer in a car. Depending upon how it is flown, most envelopes will last between 300 and 500 hours. Most pilots will fly a balloon between 30 and 75 times in a year, with each flight lasting roughly one hour.
Q. How much does a balloon cost?
A. Balloons come in a wide range of types, sizes and prices. Not including the chase vehicle, a good used balloon for 2-3 passengers can be purchased for as little as $8,000. A brand new large balloon for a ride company can easily cost $50,000 or more.
Q. Do you need a license to fly a balloon?
A. Yes. Hot-Air Balloons are federally licensed aircraft and, as such, require a pilot’s license to operate. For more information, (click here). [link to Flight Instruction page]
Q. Who can fly?
A. Generally anyone can be a passenger in a balloon. However, in the interest of safety, there are a few exceptions. Pregnant women and children under 12 are not permitted to fly. Flying is not recommended for persons with hip or knee replacements. Persons who have participated in scuba diving within the past 48 hours may not fly. The pilot reserves the right to refuse to take any passenger if, based on the pilot’s judgment, it would be unsafe to do so.
Q. How many people can fly?
A. In addition to the pilot, our balloons can accommodate up to 3 passengers plus the pilot, depending on the weight of the passengers and the temperature on the day of the flight.
Q. Will I need to sign a waiver?
A. Yes, we use a standard waiver of liability. Click here to download the waiver.
Q. What should I wear?
A. The temperature during the flight is typically the same as on the ground, so dress appropriately for being outside for several hours, based on the weather the day of your flight. Some landing sites are more rustic than others, so for this reason, long pants are suggested, and a good pair of sneakers or other sturdy shoes that enclose your feet are required (no sandals, heels, flip-flops, etc.)
Q. What should I bring?
A. A balloon flight is a once in a lifetime experience for most people. Be sure to bring a camera and/or video camera to record the event. Also, make sure you have extra memory cards for your camera(s), and extra batteries, too.
Q. Can I bring family and friends?
A. Ballooning a very unique adventure and your family and friends are welcome to follow along and share the experience. The burners may be a bit loud for children, so use caution until you know how your child reacts to the noise.
Q. When do you fly?
A. For safety reasons, it is best to fly within two hours after sunrise and two hours prior to sunset.
Q. How long does the ride last?
A. The ride lasts approximately one hour. The length of the ride can vary with each flight, depending upon availability of landing spots, fuel consumption and other factors.
Q. Where do you launch?
A. We can launch virtually anywhere that there is a large enough open area to inflate the balloon, provided we have permission to use the property. Our launch location is determined by the direction of the wind. Part of our flight planning involves making sure the our potential flight path doesn’t take us into restricted areas.
Q. Where do you land?
A. Wherever the wind takes us – that’s part of the joy of ballooning! We typically know the rough direction that we will travel, be we literally don’t know exactly where we will land until we get there. So, the flights are always different!
Q. Do you come back to the launch field?
A. Typically we do not launch and land in the same field. Most of our passengers have a vehicle that follows our chase crew, so they can be there when the balloon lands. If you don’t, that’s OK. We will make sure that we return you to your car after the ride.
Q. What does the chase crew do and how can I join the crew?
A. The chase crew is responsible for preparing the balloon for take-off, following the balloon during the flight, and packing the balloon after the flight (to see photos, click here). We always welcome new crew members. This is a family activity, so everyone can come along. Our current “crew chief” started when he was only 5 months old! It’s not a paid position, but we generally share a meal and an occasional balloon ride! If you’re interested, give us a call and we’ll have you come out with us – it’s that easy!
Q. I want a balloon ride!!!! How do I sign up?
A. Give us a call at 319-298-8882 between 10:00am and 8:00 pm CT, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ask for Kevin or Shelley and we will happily answer any additional questions and reserve your ride.
Q. I want to buy a ride as a gift. Do you offer gift certificates?
A. If you are giving the ride as a gift, we can set it up as a surprise, or you may want to purchase our beautiful gift certificates adorned with one of our balloons. Because of the unpredictable nature of Iowa weather, we recommend Gift Certificates for special occasions such as birthday, anniversaries, holiday/Christmas gifts. We accept cash, check or credit card for payment.
Q. More questions???
A. We would love to hear from you, just call 319-298-8882, or email us at email@example.com