Up up up and away

Summertime provides the perfect opportunity to take to the skies in a hot air balloon. The views from the air are second to none, and a ride in a balloon will provide memories you'll cherish for many years to come.

The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology and consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule), which carries passengers and (usually) a source of heat, in most cases an open flame.


Hot air balloon rides are very weather dependent (far more so than even than general flying) so weather forecasts need to be as precise as possible. If the conditions on the day are rainy, have poor visibility or high wind speeds then your flight is unlikely to go ahead. In terms of ballooning winds at ground level above 10 mph or 16 kph can result in very unpleasant and potentially dangerous landings.

How the weather effects hot air ballooning

The main factor is the wind, ideally there needs to be less than 10 knots of wind on the surface and up to 300 - 500 feet and preferably less than 20 knots at 2,000 feet. Due to the size of the balloon envelope, standing the balloon upright in more than 10 knots is almost impossible.

Subject to not running out of land an experienced balloon pilot can land a balloon in 50% or more faster surface winds than it is possible to inflate in, you just have to wait for the right size field straight ahead to come up.

Frequent problems we face in the summer are thermic activity and sea breezes. For this reason we only schedule mass ascents at balloon festivals first thing in the morning (just after sunrise) or last thing in the day (90 minutes or less before sunset). At this time of the day the air is at its most stable for hot air ballooning as balloons do not fly in the dark.

Hot air ballooning and the weather

Tiverton Balloon and Music Festival on 12-14 July 2013 offers a great opportunity to see hot air balloons up close. Headline attractions include 40+ live music acts and 30 + hot air balloons of all shapes and sizes, taking to the skies every morning and evening STW (subject to weather!).

Find out more about the Tiverton Balloon and Music Festival

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