What regulations are in Place?
Hot Air Balloons are required to be fully registered aircraft with the Australian Civil Aviation and Safety Authority and are subject to regular airworthiness checks by authorised personnel. Pilots need to have different levels of experience before they are allowed to progress to larger balloons and this again is carefully monitored by CASA. Each commercial operation must operate with a nominated Chief Pilot and under an Air Operators Certificate from CASA.
Can hot air balloons steer?
Yes, hot air balloons can steer to a certain extent. Although they cannot be steered in the same way as an airplane or a helicopter, pilots can control the direction of the balloon to some degree by changing the altitude. By ascending or descending to different altitudes, pilots can take advantage of the different wind directions at each altitude to navigate the balloon in the desired direction. This requires skill and experience, as pilots must constantly monitor wind conditions and make adjustments as needed. Additionally, some modern hot air balloons are equipped with small vents or "steering lines" that allow for limited steering control. Overall, while hot air balloons may not be as maneuverable as other aircraft, skilled pilots can use the unique properties of hot air to navigate them effectively.
Will there be bathroom facilities on the balloon?
We highly recommend you use the bathroom prior to being picked up as there are sometimes limited opportunity before the balloon launching. We will always return to the Mareeba Heritage Centre following your flight and there are facilities at this time.
Is there a door into the balloon?
There is no door for getting into the balloon. It is a Hot Air requirement that each passenger can climb in and out over the 1.2 meter tall balloon basket. We have foot holes that make it easier to climb in. Passengers must also be able to stand up for the entire duration of their flight.
Is there a harness for little children flying in the balloon?
There are holes in the basket that children are able to look through. You are able to carry your children as we will allocate you a spot where it is safe to do so.
Is there pressure when you are flying in a balloon like in an aeroplane?
We do not fly as high as an aeroplane, there is some altitude however. If you believe this could be an issue for you please contact your doctor before flying and let us know of any conditions.
Are there seats on the balloon as I cannot stand for long periods of time?
We have no seating in the balloon and require all passengers to remain standing for the whole flight. We also require all passengers to climb into the 1.2meter tall basket unassisted, there are two footholds to help you.
Do I have to pack up the balloon?
Yes we get all the passengers to partake in the fun activity of packing up the balloon.
I want to become a balloon pilot can hot air train me?
We recommend going to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Australia website as that is where you can find out more about training. Flying a Hot Air Balloon is the same license as flying a commercial aeroplane. We are only operate commercial flights.
Do I need life insurance to fly in the balloon?
Your safety and peace of mind are our top priorities. We ensure this through stringent adherence to all safety regulations and protocols. In fact, all of our hot air balloon flights include an insurance levy in the total cost. This covers specific liabilities, such as take-off, landing, and the insurances required by law for flying on private properties - things that are typically not covered in normal travel insurance.
However, as far as personal life insurance is concerned, that's a decision entirely up to you and your individual needs and circumstances, and if you're uncertain, we recommend discussing with your insurance provider or a financial advisor to understand what's best for you.
Remember, we're here to make your ballooning experience memorable, safe, and worry-free. For any other questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to us. Let's make your sky-high adventure a reality!
What is the best time of year I should book for?
Our tour runs all year round and each season offers a different beautiful view from the balloon basket. There isn't a best time as such.
How long does it take to make a hot air balloon?
In Australia there is only one hot air balloon manufacturer and each balloon takes approximately 3 months to make, from the initial designing through to delivery. Each balloon requires about 2000 square meters of fabric which is about 800 panels of fabric per balloon and takes approx 5 weeks just to sew the envelope.
How far can you go in a hot air balloon?
The distance a hot air balloon flies varies daily. It is dependant on the wind and how far it will carry the balloon while it is in the air. The pilot controls this with lifting the balloon higher and lower depending on the wind patterns and this also helps steer the balloon in a desired direction for landing.
How big does a hot air balloon have to be?
The balloon part of the hot air balloon is called the envelope and they are measured by cubic feet of air. The envelopes vary in size depending as do the baskets that are attached to them. Commercial balloons weigh around one tonne when fully inflated with air.
How does a hot air balloon work?
When the heat from the burners are mixed with the cooler outside air temperatures of the balloon envelope it causes the balloon to float. Before flying the pilots will release pie ball balloons to see the wind patterns and directions of the different layers of the atmosphere which aids them to find a suitable direction to float.
How do you get a hot air balloon to land?
When the pilot has selected a suitable landing location they will stop releasing hot air into the envelope which will cause the inside air temperatures to to cool which allows the balloon to slowly come down. The landing of a hot air balloon is usually nice and smooth and you don't even notice it has touched to the ground.
How do you control a hot air balloon?
Hot Air Balloons are controlled by hot air being released in the balloon envelope for lift and then the cool air will make the balloon drop. The pilots assess the air temperatures and patterns before they take off to select their estimated take off and landing path.
When can hot air balloons fly?
The best time to fly a hot air balloon in Australia is in the early hours of the day, generally within the first hours of daylight. We fly during this time as generally the air temperatures are at their lowest for the day and the winds have not yet picked up.
How do you drive a hot air balloon?
Hot Air Balloons are controlled with Hot Air rising. When hot air is released from the burners and mixes with the cold air outside, this will fill the envelope and makes the balloon lift off. Our pilots are highly trained in examining wind patterns and air temperatures which determine where we take off. We land wherever the wind takes us.
How many people can go up in a hot air balloon?
The number of passengers on a Hot Air Balloon ride varies daily, this is dependant on the weather conditions and loadings on the day. Commercial balloon baskets come in different sizes and the do vary every day for each flight, balloon baskets can carry from 2 to 24 passengers.
Why do hot air balloons only go up in the morning in Australia?
All ballooning in Australia happens in the early hours of the morning within the first few hours of daylight. Generally during the day time the air temperatures are too high for ballooning. Hot Air Balloons require cool temperatures and steady wind patterns which generally are best in the morning. We also believe the early mornings offer spectacular views, colours and the best opportunity to see native wildlife hopping by on the ground.
Why do Hot Air Balloons fly so early in the morning?
All ballooning Australia wide is held in the early hours of the morning for the best possible conditions to fly. Before sunrise the air temperatures and wind is stable, plus it is a great way to start the day! The scenery at that time of the day is well worth the early wake up call.
How do i get into the Balloon?
The balloon basket is 1.2m tall and to assist you climb on board there are some foot holes to make embarking easier. The baskets are all the same size for all of the balloons. Our balloon baskets are very secure and stable made out of woven wicker which make them light and strong. There is no maximum age restriction but all passengers must be able to enter and exit the basket unassisted to fly. There also is no weight limitations but when you book please mention weights as they are important in making our allocations.
What is a Hot Air Balloon?
A Hot Air Balloon is an aircraft, in where the "Balloon" part is called an envelope which holds heated air and attached below the opening, is a wicker basket which carries the passengers and Pilot. Mounted above the basket is the "burner" or heat source. The burner injects a flame into the envelope heating the air within making it become buoyant as the colder air is on the outside of the envelope.
Baskets are commonly made of woven wicker or rattan, which has been proven to be durable, strong and light. Small holes are woven into the side of the basket as foot holds to aid in climbing into and out of the basket.
How much does a Hot Air Balloon weigh?
Our balloons weigh more than 710kg before we add fuel or passengers. The balloon envelope itself weighs 230 kg and the basket, burners and fuel tanks about 470 kg.
How much does a Hot Air Balloon cost?
A hot air balloon costs just over $100,000 AUD by the time we set them up with radios and fuel tanks.
How many people will be in the balloon basket?
Every day is different in ballooning, the number of passengers and size of our balloon baskets always vary.
We fly baskets from 6 to 10 to 16 to 20 to 24 persons in a basket, and we are only able to determine how many people in a hot air balloon basket the evening before a flight when our flight planning commences.
Everywhere in the balloon basket each passenger gets a 360 degree view. Of course, the number of balloons we fly also varies every day and it's always fun when there's 2 or 3 or 4 balloons as part of the spectacular scenery.
If you choose a Private Charter you will not be sharing with other people and in that case we can offer you a private flight for two adults of a family of four with children subject to your weight. We only need individual weights for a private charter not for a regular flight.
Do you fly balloons in the rain?
We try to avoid flying in the rain in order that our guests do not get wet, sometimes a shower will catch us up in the balloon or drop on us on landing and so its possible on some days you would get wet but we don't fly when we know that your are definitely going to get wet.
Its quite operationally possible to fly balloons in the rain, you just use a bit more gas keeping the balloon up to temperature.
Is wind required to fly?
No, but most balloonists prefer about 6-8 km per hour surface wind. Contrary to popular belief, wind is not a prerequisite for a hot air balloon flight. It's the hot air filling the balloon that creates the lift necessary for flight. However, having a gentle breeze, typically around 6-8 km per hour at surface level, is beneficial. This slight wind can provide some level of directionality and steerage during the flight. Remember, unlike other aircraft, hot air balloons move with the wind rather than against it, so while they don't require wind to lift off, it does play a role in the journey's direction and pace.
Why do balloon flights take place so early in the morning?
Fantastic question! The timing of our balloon flights is not just for the breathtaking views at dawn, but it's also related to optimal weather conditions. Hot air balloons rely on cool, stable, and calm winds, and the early morning hours just after sunrise usually provide these conditions.
In Australia, especially due to the thermal wind conditions, scheduling an afternoon flight can be challenging. That's why we aim to launch our balloons close to "official first light," which may not necessarily be at sunrise—it largely depends on the day's specific conditions.
It's also worth noting that hot air balloons move with the wind, meaning our skilled pilots rely on choosing the right heights to sail with wind currents towards the most suitable landing site. Therefore, the weather plays a crucial role in hot air ballooning, which makes the early morning the ideal time for these magical flights.
What are Hot Air Balloons made of?
That's a fantastic question! The charm of hot air balloons lies not only in their majestic flight but also in the intricate craftsmanship and materials used to construct them. Let's break it down:
The Balloon Envelope: This is the vibrant, large canopy you see rising into the sky. It's made of rip-stop nylon, a tough yet lightweight material known for its tear-resistant quality. This ensures that the envelope can withstand the varying temperatures and pressures that occur during a balloon flight. The fabric is reinforced with an air-frame of durable wires and high-grade webbing. All these elements are gathered and secured at the top with a 'crown ring'.
The Basket: This is where you'll be standing, taking in the breathtaking views. Typically, the basket is crafted from high-grade woven wicker. Not only is wicker strong and flexible, but it also has an inherent ability to return to its original shape after hundreds of landings, ensuring the basket's longevity. The wicker structure is further bolstered by a frame usually made from aviation-grade stainless steel, and it includes a wooden floor for additional stability. In some extreme environments, such as Africa, Kevlar may also be used to enhance durability.
So there you have it! A hot air balloon is a marvellous blend of traditional craftsmanship and modern materials, each contributing to a truly unforgettable ballooning experience.
How tall is a hot air balloon?
The height of a hot air balloon can greatly vary based on its design, type, and size. Most traditional hot air balloons typically stand between 25 to 30 meters (82 to 98 ft) tall when fully inflated. However, some balloons, especially those of special shapes or larger sizes, can reach up to 42 meters (138 ft) in height. It's one of the reasons they make such an impressive sight when floating in the sky!
How is a Hot Air Balloon steered?
That's a fantastic question! The magic of hot air balloon navigation lies less in steering and more in skilfully harnessing the power of the wind. Unlike cars or planes, hot air balloons don't have a steering wheel or a rudder.
Our experienced pilots have a deep understanding of wind patterns and use these to guide the balloon. By ascending or descending into different wind currents, the pilot can subtly influence the balloon's direction.
Before every flight, our pilots perform thorough pre-flight checks, which include evaluating the wind direction and speed at various altitudes and reviewing up-to-date weather reports. This essential step allows them to plan the safest and most enjoyable flight path.
Once aloft, the pilot can raise or lower the balloon by controlling the temperature inside the balloon. Heating the air causes the balloon to rise, and letting the air cool naturally makes the balloon descend. By doing so, we can find and 'ride' the wind currents that will take us in the desired direction.
While we can't steer a hot air balloon as directly as a car or plane, our skilled pilots can guide its journey. They make sure your flight is a safe, memorable, and breathtaking dance with the winds. Get ready for an unforgettable adventure in the skies!
If you have always wanted to fly in a balloon...
We own the balloons, we fly the balloons.