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Texas Air Adventures has a first-class balloon, pilot and crew.  Learn more about us.

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Balloonists' Prayer

The winds have welcomed you with softness.

The sun has blessed you with his warm hands.

You have so flown so high and so well,

that God has joined you in your laughter,

and he has set you gently back again into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

Anon believed to have been adapted from an old Irish sailors' prayer

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

About Hot Air Balloons & Hot Air Balloon Rides

We wanted to share the answers to our most frequently asked questions (FAQ's).  If you have a question that is not answered by our FAQ document, please feel free to call or EMAIL us

 

The Questions On Your Minds ...

Frequently Asked Questions (Answers are posted below)

  1. How long is the flight?

  2. How many people will be flying with me?

  3. Are there any weather or timing restrictions for flying?

  4. When is the best time of day to fly?

  5. Where do we launch?

  6. Where will we land?

  7. How high will we fly?

  8. What should I wear?

  9. How far does the balloon travel?

  10. Why do balloonists typically end each flight with a champagne toast?

  11. Do you need a license to fly a balloon?

  12. How large is the balloon we will be flying in?

  13. What fuel is used to heat the air inside a balloon?

  14. What is it like to fly in a balloon?

  15. What are balloons made of?

  16. What are balloon baskets made of?

  17. How is a balloon inflated?

  18. What makes a balloon "fly"?

  19. Is it quiet in the balloon?

  20. Can you steer a balloon?

  21. What instruments do balloons have?

  22. What about Vertigo? - I am afraid of heights!

  23. How safe is ballooning?

  24. Does Texas Air Adventures, LLC carry oxygen in the balloon?

  25. Can you smoke in a balloon?

  26. Can passengers bring pets up in the balloon?

  27. Does it get cold up there?

  28. Do birds ever fly into balloons?

  29. Can we drink alcoholic beverages in the balloon?

  30. Can I take my children flying with me?

  31. Can anyone fly?

  32. How high can we go?

Our Answers

1.  How long is the flight?

Balloon flight times are typically 45 minutes to an hour in duration, depending on the wind speed on the morning of your flight, weight in the basket, and ambient temperature. But  please plan on being our guest for about 4 hours so as to allow time to inflate the balloon, fly, repack the balloon, and toast our successful balloon ride.
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2.  How many people will be flying with me?

Each of our flights includes the pilot and the members of your personal party.  You will not be flying with strangers.

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3.  Are there any weather or timing restrictions for flying?

Balloonists in the Houston area fly year round.  However, Texas Air Adventures, LLC only flies on weekend days with winds less than 8 mph.  Out of respect for your safety, we also do not fly on days with rain, fog, low cloud cover, or on the day after a very hard rainstorm, as the ground conditions may be too muddy for landing.

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4.  When is the best time of day to fly?

We prefer to fly at daybreak, as the air is more stable and the winds are calmer than at later points in the day.  Balloons do not usually fly in the middle of the day because of the heat, shifting winds, and thermals. 

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5.  Where do we launch?

We meet at the West Oaks Mall at daybreak.  The exact launch site will vary depending on the wind direction and the time of sunrise.  Our pilot will select the departure site considering the wind direction and the availability of good landing sites in the direction of the flight.  

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6.  Where will we land?

Balloons land somewhere down wind of where they take off.  The pilot is responsible for selecting a suitable landing spot for the balloon and the chase crew will advise the pilot if landing spots in consideration provide easy access for the chase vehicle.  Balloons have landed in such things as parking lots, golf courses, fields, ballparks, schools, back yards, front yards, streets, roads, airports, and even boat docks.  Part of the adventure of ballooning is not knowing your destination prior to departure.

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7.  How high will we fly?

Most flights take place between 500 and 3,000 feet.
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8.  What should I wear?

We recommend that passengers wear comfortable hiking boots and layered clothing so they can either remove excess clothing or add additional clothing to reach optimal comfort.  It is also best to wear trousers/pants instead of shorts - as landing fields may contain berry or briar patches that could scratch bare legs.

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9.  How far does the balloon travel?

The distance traversed is dependent upon the speed of the wind.  If the wind is blowing at 7 miles per hour, then the balloon will travel 7 miles in a one-hour flight.
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10.  Why do balloonists typically end each flight with a champagne toast?

In the early days of ballooning (dating from 1783 and the first flight of the Montgulfier brothers) hot air balloons typically landed on rural farmland.  Sometimes, in self defense and out of fear of an encounter with aliens, the resident farmers attacked the balloon with a pitchfork.  The early aviators thus began carrying bottles of champagne onboard their balloons to prove that they were fellow French men, to pacify the farmers upon landing, and to celebrate the conclusion of a safe and beautiful flight.  Out of respect for tradition, most balloonists still perform champagne or juice toasts after their flights.

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11.  Do you need a license to fly a balloon?

Yes, the flying of hot air balloons, like airplanes, is governed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).  In fact, the process of getting and maintaining a hot air balloon license is very much like process for getting/maintaining a fixed-wing pilot's license. 

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12.  How large is the balloon we will be flying in?

Blew Bayou is approximately 60 feet across (at the widest point) and 60 feet tall.  The Blew Bayou  envelope holds 90,000 cubic feet of air and weighs (empty) about 225 pounds.  The Chameleon envelope holds 105,000 cubic feet of air and (when empty) weights approximately 295 pounds.

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13.  What fuel is used to heat the air inside a balloon?

Propane.  We carry approximately 45 gallons of fuel onboard. 

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14.  What is it like to fly in a balloon?

Since the balloon moves at the same speed of the wind, passengers in the basket feel no sensation of movement.  The ground will simply drift by under you, providing a very unique aerial perspective of the area (and great photo opportunity).  Between "burns" the flight is typically serenely quiet.  Interestingly enough, sound carries vary differently above ground.  The barking of dogs below seems to be up in the sky around you, and you will be able to hear people on the ground speaking in a normal tone.

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15.  What are balloons made of?

When most people refer to a "balloon" they are actually referring to the part of the balloon known as the envelope.  Balloon envelopes are typically made of rip-stock nylon or polyester fabric.  The fabric of the envelope is sewn to or around a tape or rope that will bear the load placed on the envelope by the basket and its contents.  

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16.  What are balloon baskets made of?

The walls of the basket are usually woven from rattan wicker.  Most baskets also contain a support framework made of wood, aluminum, steel, cable, rope or a combination of these materials.  Baskets are designed so that the weight inside the basket, i.e. fuel tanks and passengers, is transferred directly the the load tapes or ropes of the envelope.  Rattan wicker is used most often for the basket walls because it is light in weight while at the same time being strong and flexible.

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17.  How is a balloon inflated?

Since a balloon is quite unwieldy on the ground, it generally takes three to four people (working together) to inflate and launch a balloon.   To start the process, the envelope is stretched out on the ground and then attached to the basket.  A gasoline-powered fan is then used to quickly blow cold air into the envelope.  The inflation process is completed with the bursts of hot air from the burner.  As the hot air rises to the top of the envelope, the balloon becomes upright.   The pilot will continue to add bursts of hot air (from the ground) until he/she determines that the balloon is ready to take off.

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18.  What makes a balloon "fly"?

The balloon's burner heats up the cold air that has been blown into the envelope by the cold inflation fan.  As the air in the envelope is heated, it expands and become less dense.  This causes the air inside the envelope to weigh less than the surrounding (or ambient) air.  Once the weight of the entire balloon system, including the fuel and passengers, is lighter than the surrounding air that is displaces, the balloon will lift off of the ground and begin to fly.

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19.  Is it quiet in the balloon?

When the burner is not in use, your flight will be very quiet and serene.  (Aloft there is not even any wind noise because if the wind is blowing, you are moving with it.  You may, however, hear conversations of people on the ground or dogs barking in the distance.)  However, when the burner is "on", it is very noisy in the basket. 

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20.  Can you steer a balloon?

Not really.  Because the balloon ascends with the warmer air in the envelope and descends with cooler air, the pilot can control the flight of the balloon vertically, but not horizontally.  The pilot can change direction of the flight only by ascending or descending to a current of air moving a different direction, leveraging the Coriolis effect.

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21.  What instruments do balloons carry?

Balloons our equipped with an altimeter to indicate altitude, a variometer which shows rate of climb or descent and a temperature gauge to show how hot the fabric is at the top of the balloon.   Each propane tank has a fuel gauge and some systems have fuel pressure gauges.

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22.  What about Vertigo? - I am afraid of heights!

A balloon flight is very gentle and stable and because you start from the ground and gently lift up. The sensation is very different from fixed wing aircraft flight and is unlikely to cause vertigo.

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23.  How safe is ballooning?

Some consider hot air ballooning to be one of the safest forms of flying.  However, there are inherent risks with all sports and this one is no exception.  Balloonist accidents are typically related to encounters with power lines or hard landings that cause broken bones or muscle sprains.  Some individuals wear bicycle helmets or kneepads to minimize the impact of a potentially hard landing, which cannot be avoided if the winds suddenly increase.

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24. Does Texas Air Adventures, LLC carry oxygen in the balloon?

Oxygen is only required by the FAA if you fly at or above 12,500 feet (mean sea level) for a given time (30 minutes).  As our flights do not exceed 3,000 feet, we do not carry oxygen on board.

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25.  Can you smoke in a balloon?

Texas Air Adventures strictly does not allow smoking in or around the balloon as propane is highly flammable.

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26.  Can passengers bring pets up in the balloon?

For your own safety, Texas Air Adventures strictly does not fly with pets in the basket.  You are certainly welcome to bring your loved ones to watch the launch and landing processes.

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27.  Does it get cold up there?

Not really.  For each 1,000 feet we ascend, it will be about 3 degrees cooler in the air then it is on the ground.  So, for the most part, you will feel no difference in the temperature aloft versus on the ground.  However, as we fly in the coolest part of the morning, it is advisable to wear personal clothing in layers so you add or remove clothing to be comfortable before, during and after the flight.  

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28.  Do birds ever fly into balloons?

Rarely.  Because of it's size, a balloon is easy for birds to see and to avoid.  Also, birds, like ground animals, are frightened by the sound of the burners.  However, if a bird did fly into the balloon, it would bounce off.

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29.  Can we drink alcoholic beverages in the balloon?

No, the FAA does not allow alcoholic beverages to be consumed during flight.  Moreover, for your safety, we would not want to bring any glass bottles onboard.  Upon request, the pilot will provide you with bottled water (in plastic bottles) prior to the flight. 

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30.  Can I Take My Children?

We encourage families to participate in hot air ballooning.  There are, however a few issues to consider in determining if children may fly. 

1) The sides of the basket are approximately 4' high; therefore the children who have yet to reach this height will not be able to securely hold on, much less enjoy the beautiful views. 

2) FAA  (Federal Aviation Administration) regulations do not allow parents to hold or carry their children during the flight. 

3) Another consideration is that the burners (which are directly over your head) will be burning flames 10' - 15' feet at any given times.  This can frighten young children. 

With these disclaimers understood, our recommendation is that children over the age of 8 should be old enough to safely enjoy the flight.  We recommend that you review your individual situation with our customer service agent.  And, we require that both parents co-sign the liability release waiver of any passengers less than 18 years of age.

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31.  Can Anyone Fly?

Guests must be 8 years of age or older and physically able to climb into the basket, securely hold the top of the basket and independently brace their body for the impact of landing, walk back to the basket from the landing location, and absorb normal risks (which may include, but not be limited to) injury or fatality from flight, ground, or landing operations, injury in remote place without medical facilities, or damage to personal property or equipment).  Individuals that are pregnant, have artificial arm limbs, or are under treatment for any infirmity (such as, but not limited to, osteoporosis, back problems, chronic ailments, or any other injury of any type that could be affected by a hot air balloon) should not fly.

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32.  How High Can We Go?

Houston area balloon flights typically fly within a profile between 600 feet to 2,500 feet above sea level.  Note:  Even those with a fear of heights generally need not be concerned, as you will not experience any vertigo feelings since you are moving with the wind (which means that there is no rocking, swaying, or other feelings of movement.  This also means that you should not worry about taking motion sickness medicines.

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Hot Air Balloon Affiliations

Hot Air Ballooning

Our Cover Girl

Texas Highways
featured our beautiful Blew Bayou balloon on the cover of it's August, 2002 magazine.  What an honor!

More News>>

 
 

Please enjoy viewing our Photo Gallery of hot air balloon pictures

Gallery>>

 

Join the LSHABA

The Lone Star Hot Air Balloon Association meets monthly in Houston to advance the sport of ballooning.  We encourage you to become a club member.

LSHABA >>>
 

Join the BFA

The BFA is the single largest non-profit organization committed to the advancement of ballooning.  With your membership, you receive a beautiful monthly magazine about ballooning and you help a worthy cause..

 
 
 

Texas Air Adventures, Houston, Tx  /  Phone:  281.379.3165  /  Email us at:  Info@TexasAA.Com

Houston area hot air balloon rides PLUS events, promotions, & flight training featuring hot air balloons

Texas Air Adventures, LLC. / Last modified: 11/14/2006