Our Frequently Asked Questions will help you answer all the questions that you might have on Ballooning, and Ballooning with Air to Air Africa! Please read through it carefully.
- Can anyone fly in a balloon?
- All passengers must be capable of standing for the duration of the flight, and able to enter and exit the basket unassisted. A parent or guardian must accompany children under the age of 16. Passengers with health considerations accept the responsibility to consult a doctor before embarking on a balloon flight.If there are any questions regarding physical suitability, or health limitations, please discuss these with us before booking. We will do all that we can to accommodate prospective passengers, however we reserve the right to refuse anyone who in our opinion would be a safety liability to themselves or others.We consider it unsafe to fly when pregnant., as the landings may be slightly bumpy. Please advise us of your condition and ask for pilots permission prior to launch..
- How long is the flight?
- Depending on weather conditions: most flights are about one hour,
Large groups requiring two flights are about 40-45 minutes
- Do we need to book beforehand?
- Yes. Balloons are limited to the amount of passengers and, more importantly, the weight they can carry. For this reason it is very important that you book well in advance, so as not to be disappointed. Please go to our Terms & Conditions before booking.
- What are the various activities and how much do they cost?
- Follow this link for pricing and activity details » click here for pricing
- How do you know how many passengers a balloon can take?
- Balloons are rated by cubic capacity of their envelopes. The cubic capacity of the envelope determines the size of the basket it may be attached to. The balloons we fly can carry a minimum of 4 individual passengers to weight the basket.
- Two per compartment up to 8 passengers
- Three per compartment up to 12 passengers
- Four per compartment up to 16 passengers
We can also accommodate much larger groups.
- What do we need to wear & what to bring?
- Clothing should be layered, (keeping in mind the early morning chill of dawn, the warmth of a flight, and the sunshine on landing). Walking shoes are a must as you will be landing in fields and climbing into baskets. Hats or caps are recommended. A camera and film to remember this event. Binoculars and even a Cell phone to call a friend or family!
- Where do you launch from?
- We are willing to launch anywhere in South Africa, if at all suitable. Please phone or e-mail for quotations, The prices quoted on the web are based on a launch-site in the Kromdraai area near Lanseria Airport (about 35km north-west of Johannesburg). This area is also known as the Cradle of Humankind. It is a World Heritage Site that includes game & nature reserves. We have a number of launch-sites available to us in the “Cradle” so that our pilot may choose a launch-site once he has a forecast of the wind currents for that particular day. Due to this, we meet you at a prior arranged venue and transport you to the launch-site.
- Why do we serve Champagne after a flight?
- A French nobleman set off one day with a friend or two for a flight near Paris. When they came down they were set upon by an angry mob with pitchforks, who thought this apparition from the skies was the Devil! But the boys had traditional sparkling refreshments tucked away in the basket. They opened it to prove they were from the local region, and truly belonged to Mother Earth! Thus began the tradition of the bottle of sparkling refreshments after a flight.
- What are balloons made of?
- The envelope is constructed of anti-porous treated rip-stop nylon, with load bearing webbing tapes, This structure is attached to the burner frame by 24 stainless steel wires using eight 3000kg-rated carabineers. The burner frame is attached to the basket by eight wires that pass through and under the wicker, creating a fully supportive cradle right under the basket. The basket holds three propane burners, fed by four 30/40kg propane tanks (120/130kg) that are controlled by overhead press handles (or “toggle taps”) which release the gas into the burner-heads where it is ignited by a pilot-light.
- How is the balloon inflated?
- The balloon envelope is spread out on the ground and attached to the basket and burner frame. Initially, cold-inflation is done using petrol-driven fans to pump cold air into the envelope for about 20 minutes. Once the envelope’s mouth is large enough, the burners can be used to heat the air inside the envelope. Continued heating causes the envelope to rise above the basket and bring it upright.
- How do you steer a balloon?
- Balloons cannot be steered! However ascending or descending into differing air currents at different altitudes achieves limited directional control. By controlling the temperature inside the balloon the pilot can make the balloon rise or descend. As the air in the envelope cools a sink rate will set in, unless one burns gas (which is noisy and breaks the silence with a roar, but is essential to maintain lift).
- What is the highest a balloon may fly?
- The wind currents govern a flight on any given day, so a balloon can fly at treetop level or climb several thousand feet high. The Maximum the authorities allow is 6500ft. Generally, balloonists like to fly at lower levels as more can be seen.
- Where do you fly to?
- Each flight is different. How high, how long, and where you’ll land no one knows! That is the joy of flight. But sooner or later you will have to land and, after a glass of traditional sparkling refreshment, our retrieval vehicles will be there to transport you back to the venue, where a well-deserved breakfast awaits.
- How do you land a balloon?
- On the landing approach, the pilot can allow the lift to degrade by venting hot air through the top vent known as the parachute, which is pulled open by the rip line, and, if necessary, shut again by the pressure of the hot air pushing it back into place. The orientation of the basket is controlled by spinning the balloon, achieved by venting air through spinning vents set around the circumference on the envelope at its “equator”. At the moment of landing, the rip line is pulled to bring the basket firmly to earth, and to get the envelope deflated as quickly as possible.
- What regulations are in place in South Africa?
- In order to operate as a commercial ballooning company in South Africa you need to be registered as a non-scheduled airline and have a valid license and operating certificate issued by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA). Operators are subject to regular airworthiness checks by authorized personnel on a yearly basis.Air to Air Africa is the holder of Air Service Licenses N689D and G690D, issued in terms of the provisions of the Air Services Licensing Act, 1990 (Act115 of 1990).