Timing your Flight

“…I’d like to take a balloon ride around 10 o’clock tomorrow morning…” So begins many a phone call (908) 996-3333 to our balloon office.

Here’s the problem: because of wind speeds, balloons can fly, generally, two times a day. They can fly at sunrise or just before sunset. Those are the two times of day when the wind is the calmest. Why does that matter? Balloons are LTA (lighter than air) craft-they have no power to navigate or steer. A balloon that can carry four passengers, the 105, (105 thousand cubic feet of air volume inside the envelope) has 2 ½ tons of mass to maneuver when packed with air. If it is “windy” it can become too unwieldy and dangerous. “Windy” is over 5-8 miles per hour!

Generally, in our area, the prevailing winds are from the west. In the morning, as the temperature rises, winds increase. In the evening, as the temperature cools, winds decrease. Thus the reasoning behind scheduling flights at sunrise or a couple of hours before sunset. Sunrise and sunset are also beautiful times to fly-who wouldn’t like to try to catch a stunning sunset or a gorgeous sunrise?

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