What to Expect
The Adventure Begins
Your balloon ride adventure begins when you check in. Morning flights meet approximately 30 minutes before sunrise, and evening flights meet approximately two and a half hours before sunset. Seasonal times apply.
Once checked in, you board our vans and are taken to the launch site. The crew quickly unloads the balloon and assembles it for inflation.
Inflation of the balloon is accomplished by motorized fans. Once the envelope is filled with air, the pilot carefully directs propane burners to heat the air inside the balloon envelope. After just a few minutes, the balloon is standing upright and ready for you to board.
Once on board, your pilot introduces you to the flight with a passenger briefing filled with information to help you enjoy the flight and prepare for the landing.
Everyone gets a window seat. Balloon rides have been called “a nature walk in the sky.” Get ready; you’re about to experience the magic of ballooning.
Up, Up, and Away!
As you gently leave the ground, you’re amazed at how light the balloon feels. During the flight, you have unobstructed 360-degree views, allowing for breathtaking photographs.
To steer the balloon, your pilot explores a variety of altitudes, from just above the treetops up to perhaps as high as 3,000 feet. By changing altitude, your pilot is also able to change direction by finding shifts in wind currents.
On our flights, we commonly see the Cascade Mountains, Snohomish River, the high rise buildings of downtown Seattle, and breathtaking views of Mount Rainier.
Your pilot points out the occasional eagle’s nest as well as salmon and beavers swimming up the river. He might descend within inches of the river, much to everyone’s delight, for the best viewing opportunity.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Is hot air ballooning safe?
Hot air balloons are registered aircraft which follow FAA safety and maintenance standards, just like a commercial airliner. All balloon pilots are licensed and trained according to rigorous standards, and specific safety mechanisms and equipment are required for every flight. Our pilots routinely attend safety seminars and continuing education programs.
- How many people does it take to inflate a hot air balloon?
Safely launching and flying a hot air balloon typically requires two crew members. Duties of the crew include putting together and setting up the balloon, following the hot air balloon in our chase vehicle, talking with landowners and getting permission to land the hot air balloon on their property, and making sure the property is left as it was originally found.
- How are balloons inflated?
The hot air balloon envelope is hooked to the basket and then spread on the ground. A gasoline powered fan fills the envelope with cold air with the balloon stretched out on its side. Once the envelope is packed with air from the fan, the pilot lights a propane burner and heats up the air inside the balloon. With a few short squeezes of the burner, the hot air balloon stands upright and is ready for launch. Typically, the entire inflation takes about 15 – 20 minutes.
- What should we wear? Does it get cold?
At our maximum altitude, the temperature is only a few degrees lower than on the ground. Fortunately, you have the heat of the burner to make up the difference. Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes and comfortable clothing. You want to be able to easily and comfortably get in and out of the basket. Dress in layers. Mornings can be chilly, but it warms up fast. Winter evenings cool off fast at sunset. Light jackets, sweaters, and hoodies are all good to have but not always necessary to wear.
- Medical Concerns
Our pilots and crew are not trained medical professionals and cannot judge any medical condition as safe for flight. We must be notified before the flight of any possible medical condition which would be cause for concern. Such conditions may include but are not limited to:
- Requiring oxygen breathing equipment, kidney machines, etc.
- Long-term or debilitating illnesses
- Inability to stand for extended periods, reliance on a walker/cane, etc.
- Recent major surgeries, broken bones, joint replacements, etc.
In most cases, we should be able to accommodate the passenger in question; however, we need to know what limitations may be present so we can plan for a safe experience. If in doubt, consult your physician about the suitability of a balloon flight. Keep in mind the possible landing conditions that may be experienced.
Unfortunately, wheelchair-bound passengers cannot be accommodated in our balloons. There are only a handful of specially-equipped wheelchair hot air balloons in existence in the world. Ask us to help you find a qualified flight provider.
Per FAA regulations, passengers clearly under the influence of drugs or alcohol cannot and will not be flown. Refunds will not be given for those who arrive in such a state.
- How do you steer a balloon?
Hot air balloons float with the wind. Pilots control the temperature of the balloon using a propane burner to heat the air inside the balloon. Winds move in different directions at different elevations.
- Why do flight times vary?
Seasonal meeting times apply because ballooning is best just after sunrise and just before sunset. That is when the air is the coolest and calmest.
- Sunrise meeting times
May 15 to 31 – 5:30 a.m.
June 1 to 30 – 6:00 a.m.
July 1 to 31 – 6:00 to 6:30 a.m.
August 1 to 31 – 6:30 to 6:45 a.m.
September 1 to 15 – 6:45 to 7:00 a.m.
Use this guide to plan your event. Please allow three and a half to four hours for your sunrise experience.
- Sunset meeting times
May 15 to 31 – 6:30 p.m.
June 1 to 30 – 7:00 p.m.
July 1 to 31 – 7:00 to 6:45 p.m.
August 1 to 31 – 6:15 p.m. to 6:45
September 1 to 15 – 5:00 p.m. to 5:15 p.m.
Use this guide to plan your event. Please allow three and a half hours for your sunset experience.