Q. How do I confirm my flight?
A. The pilot monitors weather forecasts and gets an official brief from the FAA before a flight is determined a "go" or "no-go". All passengers MUST check-in with their pilot by voice phone call.
- Morning flights call the night before from 8:30 - 8:45 PM
- Evening flights call the day of from 11:30 AM - 12:00 PM
PLEASE, DO NOT CALL EARLIER - no decision will be made prior to the times stated.
Q. Where do we meet the crew?
A. IF flying locally, we usually meet at the Smithfield Station parking lot. 415 S Church St, Smithfield, VA 23430. Some afternoons we fly from Summerwind Vineyard: 71 Eagle Nest LAne, SMithfield, VA 23430. IF we are at a festival, we will coordinate a meeting location.
Q. Am I healthy enough to fly?
A. Can you jump from a 3 foot step and land uninjured? This is the absolute minimum standard for safe landings. Can you climb into a truck? You must be able to climb into the basket.
Q. Is it OK for me to fly if I am pregnant?
A. Pregnant women are not permitted to fly due to FAA and insurance requirements.
Q. How should I dress?
A. Balloons are flown in all seasons, so dress the way you would for a short hike in the woods in the season you are flying.
Sturdy shoes. Please no sandals or flip-flops.
A hat and sunglasses are also good to bring along.
Layers are recommended. The temperature in the basket is warmer due to the burner.
Q. What else do I need to bring?
A. Before the flight the pilot or crew chief will review the manifest and paperwork.
Release form for each passenger.
Balance of fees due
Q. How does a hot air balloon work?
A. A hot air balloon consists of three main parts; the envelope which holds the hot air, the burner which heats the air in the envelope, and the basket which carries the passengers and fuel. First the envelope is filled with air. This air is the same as the air around the envelope, so the pilot uses the burner to heat the air inside the envelope. Once the air in the envelope is heated the molecules inside the envelope begin moving much faster than the molecules on the outside. This increases the air pressure inside the envelope and causes the balloon to rise. For a much more detailed explanation of how hot air balloons work click here.
Q. How do you steer a hot air balloon?
A. Air currents move in different directions at different altitudes. Before your flight the pilot will get detailed weather information which will let him know the altitudes and directions of these currents. He may also launch a small helium balloon from the launch site to test the air currents at that particular location. The pilot will use all of this information during your flight to navigate the balloon and provide you with the best flight possible. It will also allow him to choose the most favorable landing site.
Q. How do you get back to the launch site?
A. Some of the crew that helped to put up the balloon will follow along on the ground. The chase crew will meet the balloon at the landing area and pick up passengers.
Q. How long is a balloon flight?
A. The average balloon flight is two to ten miles, depending on the winds, and flight time is thirty minutes to an hour. The overall balloon experience will last from three to four hours.
Q. Is it safe?
A. Very safe. Our chief pilot has over 3,000 flight hours in balloons and is certified by the FAA as a Commercial Pilot and Flight Instructor. All ride balloons are required to have Annual inspections by FAA approved repair stations. Additionally, our ride balloon is equipped with a Halon Fire Suppression system and Kevlar load lines [non-conductive] which exceed FAA safety requirements.
Q. Can I bring a camera?
A. Absolutely. Cameras and video cameras are encouraged. A balloon flight is one of the greatest adventures you will ever have, and you will want to capture it on film. For safety reasons we ask that any cameras you bring be equipped with a neck strap. It is also a good idea to bring a small camera case. All devices must be stowed away before landing.
Q. When do you fly?
A. Balloon flights are highly weather dependent. We can not guarantee a flight on a particular date, but can usually fly within a 2-3 day window, depending on the season. In the Fall, we fly morning and afternoon each weekend.
Q. What about refunds or cancellations?
A. Please note that all flights are subject to weather conditions and may be cancelled at the pilots discretion. In the event that we are weathered out on your flight day, we will reschedule your flight at an agreeable future date.
Refund Policy - FLIGHTS WILL NOT BE REFUNDED FOR ANY REASON
ALL passengers must have a signed release on file before participating. Please print and complete this waiver and bring it to checkin.