The Importance of Hot Air Balloon Safety
Hot air balloon rides are loads of fun, but safety is still of the utmost importance. We're going over some essential hot air balloon safety tips for you.
Keyword(s): hot air balloon safety
If you want to personally re-enact the final few scenes of The Wizard of Oz, you may have some concerns about how safe hot air ballooning really is.
The good news? Despite what you may have heard, fatalities are actually very rare.
Still, that doesn't mean it's OK to forget about basic hot air balloon safety.
To make sure you have both a safe and fun time, we're outlining everything you need to know about hot air balloon safety in this post.
Fly With A Reputable CompanyMuch of your hot air balloon safety depends on the company and individual operator you decide to fly with. Their experience, training, and certification matters.
When you're choosing a company to book your hot air balloon flight with, there are a few things you can look for on their website to help you know you're making the safest choice.
First, the reviews and testimonials on their website. If there's anything shady going on, rest assured past customers will let you know.
You can also check out sites like Trip Advisor, the Better Business Bureau, and even social media accounts!
Then, see if the company is a member of the Professional Ride Operators (PRO) sector of the Balloon Federation of America (BFA.)
PRO Membership is a great indicator that the company takes hot air balloon safety seriously. It was formed to keep passengers safe, as well as to hold balloon operators accountable should anything go wrong.
In fact, the operating standards of the PRO are actually laid out by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA.) That should make you feel very safe!
Finally, keep in mind that all hot air balloon operators are required to have a pilot's license. Usually, the companies will also have an additional amount of required flight time before allowing them to take passengers up in the air.
Check The WeatherThough most hot air balloon companies won't "take off" in dangerous weather, for your own peace of mind, you may want to check the forecast on the morning of your flight.
If the weather is overly windy if it's raining hard, or of course, if there's a storm, you're not going to be able to fly that day. If your company insists that "everything's fine," leave immediately and tell others to come with you.
Keep in mind that many hot air balloon companies will also offer a "rain check" guarantee or a chance to fly another day if the weather conditions are poor. Be sure to ask about that when you book!
But What If...When it comes to hot air balloon safety, we know it can be easy to dream up worst-case scenarios. This, again, is why flying with an experienced pilot is so important.
Still, if you can't seem to stop yourself from panicking, remember that...
- Birds are scared of hot air balloons because of their size and the noises they make. If you're worried that a bird flying into the balloon could cause an accident (like on an airplane) know that because the balloon's fabric is so tough, they'll likely just bounce right off!
- If a burner goes out, it will be relit at once. Also, there's a backup burner that will ignite to make sure the balloon still flies. Even in the highly unlikely scenario that both burners go out, the balloon would only fall about as fast as a parachute.
- If your balloon somehow gets a hole in it, tests have been performed and proven that they can still fly, even with a small or medium-size hole.
- Since 1964, there have only been 70 hot air balloon fatalities in the United States. Remember that people have been flying them since 1783 - that's even before the Wright Brothers had their first airplane flight! The takeaway? Hot air balloon safety has had a lot of time to be perfected.
What About Power Lines?It is true that power lines are one of the main causes of hot air balloon accidents. Again, this is why flying in excellent weather conditions is so important - because power lines can be tougher to see in the fog.
It's also why many balloon rides take place in the morning or afternoon, for maximum visibility.
The takeaway here? If you see something, say something! Your pilot has a lot to do to keep your balloon in the air. He or she would appreciate you mentioning that you see a power line if you think you're coming a little too close.
Again, make sure you ask the company how long their pilots have been flying. Experience is the best teacher, so go with a company that's been in business a long time.
How Should I Behave On Board?Of course, hot air balloon safety is also dependent on your behavior during the flight!
First, don't be alarmed if you see safety equipment inside the basket. This is an industry standard, and it should actually make you feel better! Your pilot may also give you a brief talk about how to stay safe during the flight.
While it's perfectly fine to reach your arms slightly outside the basket to snap that awesome picture, make sure that the rest of your body stays firmly inside the basket. This isn't the time or the place to goof around.
Don't lean way over the railing, and don't jump around inside the basket.
Finally, don't forget to bring a jacket or heavy coat to stay warm! You'd be surprised to learn that sometimes, it can get a little cold up there.
Luckily, safety inside the basket just goes hand in hand with common sense.
You're An Expert In Hot Air Balloon SafetyNow, you know everything you need to about hot air balloon safety, so you can stay safe and have an amazing time on your flight!
Instead of worrying, just do your research, check the forecast, and listen to the instructions the pilot gives you.
Thanks to these tips, you're ready to go on the flight of your life. Don't forget to pack your camera!