A hot air balloon experience is loads of fun; however, safety is still of the utmost importance. There are significant safety procedures that should be adhered to always, as well as what to wear that one should know ahead of their first-time flight. While it’s easy to get carried away with the magic and romance of this skyline cruise of a lifetime, Air to Air Africa has your safety and best interests at heart, always ensuring that above all, safety protocols and best practice procedures are exercised before and during every ride in a hot air balloon.
Keep in mind the following five safety tips and best practice recommendations that will ensure your balloon experience is one to be remembered for all the right reasons!
- Selecting a Service Provider
Reputation is everything. Always research and only select a reputable hot air ballooning service. There may be a number of suppliers available but only a handful with an elaborate log-book of successful flights. You should be made to feel welcomed to ask as many questions as you’d like regarding your flight, what to expect and any concerns that you may have. The most reputable hot air balloon service providers will be open to addressing all your questions attentively.
- Necessary Certifications
South African commercial ballooning companies are required to register as a non-scheduled airline and have a valid license and operating certificate issued. Regulated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), ballooning operators are subject to annual airworthiness checks to maintain applicable certifications namely, Air Service Licenses N689D and G690D, issued in terms of the provisions of the Air Services Licensing Act, 1990 (Act115 of 1990).
- Check the Pilots Profile
Ask to review the pilot’s profile, whereby transparency is key to making your final selection of a hot air ballooning company to use. Reputable service providers should have their pilots profile readily available, published to relevant web pages and if not, have a certification or write up detailing their balloon pilot’s résumé and flight summary.
- What About the Weather
All ballooning experiences are scheduled early in the morning, just before sunrise. The reason for this is to avoid air pressure pockets that occur as the earth heats up during and after sunrise and especially during the heat of the day. Avoid all service providers who are prepared to man a flight later than sunrise, letting this be a major red flag when selecting a safe and reputable company to use. Also keep in mind that the best operator exercises extreme caution for unsavoury weather. If for whatever reason the weather ahead of a flight is not optimal, trustworthy hot air balloon companies will re-schedule the flight for a forwarded date, always putting safety first.
- How to Dress
There are a number of factors that influence clothing comfort during your ballooning experience. The early start makes for a fresh and somewhat chilly experience early on but the heat of the burner above the basket as well as the sunshine after sunrise can warm things up. The safest way to dress would be with a layered approach, allowing you to add or remove layers depending on your comfort. Flat shoes such as sneakers or trainers are also recommended allowing easy boarding and disembarking of the basket as well as catering to the variable and often muddy terrain before take-off and following landing. The hat is for the heat of the burn on take-off as this can be extreme.
Before every flight the pilot will brief all passengers and ensure that you are fully aware of the correct position to be in for the landing of the balloon. Provided you have selected a reputable ballooning service provider for this special occasion, you have researched what to expect and have come equipped for a safe and comfortable flight, there should be no reason but to climb aboard the basket and get carried away for the ultimate ride in a hot air balloon. Contact Air to Air Africa for pricing and to book your ballooning adventure today.