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Flights in a Spitfire - make it happen!

All About Ballooning

Hot Air Balloon flights Flying in a balloon is a truly unique experience, quite different from other forms of flight. Calm, relaxing, and with your destination at nature's mercy, floating over the towns and countryside makes a magical day out.

As well as the flight itself, you need to get to a suitable launch site, prepare and inflate the balloon, help locate a convenient landing site, deflate the balloon and stow it before returning back to base - once the chase vehicle has reached you!


How balloons fly

Hot air ballooningAlthough the pilot has control over the altitude of the balloon, changes in direction can only be made by locating an air mass moving in the required direction. Hence both the launch site and the landing site of a balloon experience can vary significantly from flight to flight.

Balloons are buoyant fabric envelopes of hot air or gas that are static in the air; all movement of the balloon is controlled by the direction of the air surrounding it. Buoyancy is provided by a gas less dense that air, typically helium, or by hot air, which has a lower density than the ambient environment. Passengers, together with the pilot, reside beneath the balloon in a wicker basket.

When to fly

Hot air ballooningBallooning is more sensitive to prevailing weather conditions that most other aviation activities, which means there can be quite a few re-schedulings of booked flights until the right conditions arise. The ideal conditions for ballooning are high pressure days with moderate temperatures and surface wind speeds of less than 8 mph. Once aloft, higher wind speeds are preferable, as these provide movement and steerage.

The main flying season stretches from March through October, and balloons usually fly within two or three hours of sunrise and sunset. This is when the winds are calmest and conditions most stable. In the middle of the day, thermals can develop which can be highly dangerous for the balloonist.

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See also See also: gliding.


Learn to Fly

CAA Multimedia PPL pilot training software - microlight & fixed wing.

First Light

A World War II fighter pilot's extraordinary memoir.

Flying Lessons UK

Huge range of flying lessons from all corners of the UK.

Gifts for Aviators

Great gift ideas for the aviation enthusiast or pilot.


Thrilling on- and off-road driving experiences around the UK.



  • The Ballooning Manual

    Bob Howes, Carol Howes

    A comprehensive manual for all balloonists, pilots, retrieve crews, observers, student pilots and all ballooning enthusiasts. Section 1 covers ballooning in general, as an introduction to new and would be crew members; together with hints on choosing a balloon it covers the other equipment required and the qualifications necessary to become a balloon pilot or crew member. Section 2 is involved with flight training for student pilots and includes preparation for flight, flying techniques, navigation, emerging procedures and actions after flight. Section 3 is concerned with ground studies, including information on landowner relations, the art of retrieving, how to become an observer, balloon maintance and general safety. Section 4 covers the theory relevant to the PPL written examination papers and also subjects of interest to crew and observers such as propane handling and navigation.
  • At the Mercy of the Wind

    David Hempleman-Adams

    At the Mercy of the Wind
    This is the story of how David Hempleman-Adams undertook a 1600 mile journey to the North Pole by balloon in an open-air wicker basket. He revisits the trip that inspired him - an ill-fated Swedish expedition in 1897 that had a doomed love affair at the heart of its tale.
  • Lighter Than Air: Illustrated History of the Developments of Hot-air Balloons, Dirigibles and Airships

    David Owen

    Lighter Than Air: Illustrated History of the Developments of Hot-air Balloons, Dirigibles and Airships
    This text offers a detailed illustrated history of the air balloon from the first flight of the Montgolfier brothers' hot-air balloon in 1782, to Steve Fosset's attempts at achieving record-breaking feats. It covers every aspect of the balloon - from military device to luxury airship.


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