Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are the answers to some of the most common questions our passengers ask us. If you can’t find the answer you are looking for then please don’t hesitate to email or call us and we would be happy to help.
How safe is it?
Aviation is the safest form of transport and ballooning is the safest form of aviation! Our Pilot has been flying since 1998 and holds a full UK Commercial Pilot’s Licence for Balloons as well as Australian and Canadian licences. All our balloons are inspected, maintained and operated in accordance with the strict codes of practice and regulations laid down by the Civil Aviation Authority so you can be assured of the highest possible safety standards.
Why can’t I choose the launch site?
As balloons are classed as ‘lighter than air, un-powered aircraft’, we are guided only by the prevailing winds. The launch site will therefore be chosen by your Pilot after he has considered the forecast winds for your flight period, ensuring that we do not infringe on any airspace or end up in the sea!
When do we fly?
We schedule flights 7 days a week between April and October, weather permitting. The most ideal time for a flight is either early morning or early evening as this is when the air is generally stable and surface winds are light. Meeting times vary depending on the time of year, but typically they are between 5.30am and 7am for a morning flight and 4pm and 7pm for an evening flight.
How high do we fly and for how long?
There is no such thing as an ‘average’ balloon flight; each one is a truly unique experience. Sometimes we may dip down low to brush the treetops, or climb as high as 6,500ft to enjoy the panoramic views. The flight itself, from lift-off to touch down, normally lasts about one hour. The whole experience usually lasts around 4 hours, including the Pilot briefing, the inflation, the flight itself, a champagne celebration and the journey back to the launch site.
How far do we fly and where do we land?
Ballooning, like serendipity, is the art of making happy and unexpected discoveries. The distance we fly depends upon the speed of the wind. If the wind speed at 1000ft is 10mph we will fly about 10 miles. Usually you can expect to cover anywhere between 5 and 25 miles. Your Pilot will be looking for a field free of animals and crops, ideally with good access for the retrieve vehicles.
What type of clothing should I wear and is it cold up there?
We recommend wearing the same clothes as you would wear for a walk in the countryside; layers of natural fibres are advisable, as are trousers and sensible flat, stout shoes such as walking boots (no high heels, flip flops or sandals please). We also recommend that you bring a hat or headscarf to shield your head from the heat of the burners. As balloons fly with the wind there is no wind chill factor, but at 6,500ft it will be a few degrees cooler.
Can I bring my camera?
Yes!! A balloon basket is a very stable platform for photography and video. Many passengers obtain spectacular results, using no more than a mobile phone! We also offer the opportunity to purchase images from your flight taken from our on board camera to capture the memory forever.
Can I bring family and friends to watch?
You are welcome to bring family and friends to watch the launch. If you have a large group of spectators we would recommend they stay behind for a picnic or visit the nearest pub, as congestion can often be caused on narrow country roads with a long queue of vehicles following the balloon. Please note that we only have space for passengers in the retrieve vehicles.
How do we get back to our cars?
Our ground crew are in constant radio contact with the Pilot during the flight and will follow the balloon, aiming to be there when it lands. After the flight, we return passengers back to the launch site in our fully PSV licensed ‘Spitfire’ minibus.
What if the weather is bad and the flight is postponed?
We believe it is better to be on the ground wishing that we were flying, than flying and wishing we had stayed on the ground! The Pilot is the only one who can make the decision to fly or not. If the weather is not suitable for ballooning on the day you are booked, you will be advised when you call our confirmation line and asked to re-schedule your flight to a later date.
Am I fit to fly?
You must not fly if you are suffering from any serious medical condition, or have recently undergone surgery, unless you have a certificate of fitness to fly from your doctor. Please note that we are not qualified to asses your medical condition. You must not fly if you are, or think you may be pregnant. Please see our terms and conditions for further information.
Is there an age limit?
If you feel adventurous enough to want to fly in a balloon, then you are not too old to do it. We regularly fly people in their 80’s. Provided you are of average fitness, able to climb into the basket and able to stand for an hour, we are more than happy to fly you. Anyone who might have difficulty climbing into the basket can enter before it is inflated while it’s horizontal. Children are also welcome, although we do stipulate for safety’s sake that they are tall enough to see over the side of the basket (1.4m/4’ 6” high). This means, in most cases, children under the age of eight will not normally be permitted to fly.
What if I’m afraid of heights?
Suspended beneath a balloon in a wicker basket is a very different sensation from standing at the top of a cliff, up a ladder or on the roof of a tall building. There is no wind and very little sound or sense of movement. In our experience even the most nervous of passengers relax soon after take off, feeling secure and safe in the basket throughout the flight.
Am I covered by insurance?
Yes. Kent Ballooning is fully insured with third party and passenger liability insurance. However, your personal possessions such as your camera, binoculars or mobile phones are carried at your own risk.