HeatWave & Bellestar

So You are Going to Ride in One of Our Balloons

Here is what we want you to know:

How much time:

  • Ballooning takes a team;
  • It’s not like an airplane where only the pilot is required for flight.
  • It requires 4 people or more to setup, fly and take down.
  • The pilot needs and encourages you assistance in not only the setup but also packing up of the balloon.
  • While the flight might be anywhere from ½ to 2 hours or more, the setup and takedown can add another 90 min. So plan on 3-4hrs of your morning.

What to wear:

  • Don't dress like you're going to a picnic (flip flops, sun dress, etc.). Instead, dress like you're going hiking. You just may.
  • Closed toe shoes are must. Hiking or walking shoes are encouraged.
  • Wear clothing that may get a bit dirty. White is a bad idea around ballooning. The envelope touches the ground when being put away.
  • Most likely you will be asked to assist in helping stuff this enormous sleeping bag back into a little bag.
  • In the coldest time of the year, wear layers.
    A parka is great to have during the initial inflation. We create our own extreme wind chill with an arctic 20 mph wind from the inflation fan.
  • As the burner (up above your head) produces a great deal of heat, a hat is not needed even in January.
  • You will want sunglasses.
  • Oh and don't forget the camera.

What to expect in the basket:

  • It’s tight quarters so personal space may be a bit cramped. Leave your backpack and camera bags in the car.
  • If the pilot does his job there should be nothing but smooth easy motion. Balloon pilots in general are ruthless with each other and hard landing are fodder for tailgate ribbing.
  • People describe it as smooth and tranquil. Although the burner produces quite a unique loud sound. This sound will interrupt conversation: Just repeat your sentence on the next quiet period.
  • The pilot most likely very focused on flying the balloon when near ground based objects and when landing. Believe me on this one: you WANT the Pilot to be TOTALLY FOCUSED ON FLYING at this point. Respect a pilot's "focus" time. Distractions can cause problems nobody wants.
  • It’s easy to remember to stay in the basket while airborne but STAY IN BASKET ON THE GROUND. DO NOT EXIT THE BASKET UNTIL THE PILOT TELLS YOU TO GET OUT. The Pilot has a higher purpose for your derriere.  

Safety:

  • When inflating, the fan is the most dangerous thing on the ground. Loose clothing or long hair can get pulled in very easy. The pilot may not be near the fan at times.
  • Anything looks wrong, sounds wrong or even smells wrong TURN THE FAN OFF. DON’T WAIT FOR PERMISSION OR ASK FOR PERMISSION. JUST TURN IT OFF. There is no harm in turning off the fan. It can easily be restarted.

Why not allow children?

  • In other countries you fall and you get a bruise. In the US you fall and you get a settlement. The Utah courts have determined that a parent can not sign away the minor’s rights to sue. Check out the Utah Supreme Court case of Hawkins vs. Navajo Trails if you want more info.

What could go wrong?

  • Weather could go wrong. Ballooning is extremely dependent on weather. Pilots can usually know the night before if they will be able to fly the next morning.
  • Final checks will be made within a couple hours of the planned flight. If it looks marginal the pilot will error on the side of caution and dash your dreams of flight.

Questions:

  • Expect a conversation with the pilot before the flight. The pilot will be happy to answer any questions that you may have
  • He’ll have a few for you. Such as:
    • Any Back Knee or Hip problems?
    • Fear of heights?
    • Are you a even little bit pregnant?
    • How old are you?
    • How much do you weigh?