When heat from the burner excites the air molecules inside the balloon, they expand and become less dense or heavy than the air surrounding the balloon. Therefore the outside air mass forces the balloon upward, toward the ‘surface’ of our atmosphere, similar to a beach ball sitting on water.
Because of your detachment from the ground, there is no perception of height when you are standing in a balloon. Your eyes, being positioned in front must triangulate a linear relationship with what you see in order to determine distance. Unlike standing on a building or other structure, your disconnection from the ground in a balloon disables your depth perception, so people do not sense height or experience vertigo. Even people who believe they will have a problem usually discover they feel quite secure moments after we launch.
Balloons can only be operated in the most ideal weather conditions. If its too windy, it becomes almost impossible to set up the balloon to begin with. Nowadays pilots have even more complete and latest weather information accessible on the internet, so there is little guesswork in choosing the best conditions to fly. Our balloons have the newest and most advanced safety features available in the industry today.
We have flown passengers from 5 to 100 years of age. Generally ballooning is a very tranquil experience suitable for all ages. We don’t encourage pregnant people to fly or others that may have particular physical vulnerabilities. Its best to discuss these circumstances with the pilot or staff when reserving your flight.
Our balloons feature separated compartments designed to carry no more than 4 to 6 passengers. In larger balloons with more than one compartment, the pilot is isolated along with the fuel tanks so that his flight operations won’t interfere with passenger comfort. This type of ‘gondola’ is considered to far safer and much more stable, providing more space for our guests. We ask for individual weights at the time of booking so we can anticipate the room needed for different size passengers. Our larger balloons are able to carry up to 20 passengers in a flight.
Hot air balloons are technically called an “aerostat” because they are essentially ‘static’ during flight. This means that there is virtually no sensation of movement experienced while flying in a balloon no matter what the wind speed. More subtle than an an elevator ride, you may not even realize when you lift off the ground.
Northern California is well known for ballooning, not only because it is particularly beautiful here but also because the climate is ideal. There are flyable days almost year ’round and each season offers a variety of conditions which makes for great balloon flights whenever you may choose to join us. Mustard flowers in the spring, California poppies in the summer and colorful changing vineyards in the late harvest are among the delights.
The region where you fly, your pilot and the balloon equipment that you will be flying in should be your first consideration when choosing a balloon company. We are confident that these criteria will be unsurpassed when you join Wine Country Balloons.
The pilot’s options for choosing a suitable landing site can often dictate the length of your flight, although generally we are aloft for approximately an hour or more.