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Why so early? Good question! It's all about the wind. The sun heats the earth at different rates. Where it gets really hot, we get a rising column of hot air. That's a thermal. Since we don't live in vacuum, wherever the warm air is rising, cooler air comes in below to replace it. That's thermally generated wind. Since we need the winds to be less than 7 mph, it's almost always just too windy to fly in the middle of the day. We don't have thermals overnight, so the morning hours have the calmest winds.
Sunrise is the safest time of day to fly a hot air balloon.
Arrival time is just before sunrise (somewhere around 6am). You'll have enough time to use the bathroom and grab a cup of coffee. We need about 10 minutes to give you a flight briefing.
Then, we inflate the balloons and go!
Ballooning is a sport and as such, a certain amount of agility is required. The sides of the basket are about 3 1/2 feet high. There are foot holes in the basket. You put a foot in the hole and climb on into the basket. If you have any concerns about being able to get in and out of the basket, let us know. We can usually work something out!
This is the easiest part. If you can stand still and breathe, you can do this! There's no sense of movement in the basket. Unlike an airplane, we are not affected by air pockets. Just enjoy the ride as the earth passes below. A typical flight will take us up to 1500 feet. Every day is different, and every flight is awesome! Our flight area is in the Lower Hudson Valley. We launch from Middletown NY and go which ever way the wind is blowing. Our chase crews follow from below, waiting for us to land. And where do we land? We won't know until we get there! But not to worry, we'll find a lovely field to settle down. I've been flying since 1986 and I haven't left one up there yet!
Where do we land? Well, we really won't know until we get there!
We float with the wind and whichever way the wind blows is the direction in which we travel. Pilots cannot actually steer a balloon. However, at different altitudes, the wind blows different directions and different wind speeds. By riding the altitudes, we can get to an area where we will find a nice field to land. Sometimes its an unused field, sometimes its a park or a homeowners backyard. Our chase crews follow along on the ground the entire way. We keep in contact with them via two-way radios and they are there to meet us on landing. Your pilot will deflate the balloon and it takes about 15 minutes for the crew to pack it away. This is a perfect time
for us to open a bottle of champagne to celebrate the flight! Why champagne? There's a whole story behind that and we'll tell you all about it as the crew gets everything stowed away for the trip back to our launch location. The whole trip from start to finish is about 2 1/2 hours (we're in the air for about an hour).