Why should I take a ride with “Hot Air Balloonatics LLC” ?
Our hot air balloon flights are much more intimate than those offered by most other balloon ride companies. We limit our flights to 6 passengers per balloon basket, unlike many of the other ride operators with “cattle car” balloon baskets carrying 15-20 passengers. Our passengers become our friends as we share the breathtaking scenery of New Mexico and the spectacular sport of ballooning. After each flight, we conduct a New Mexico style ballooning tradition by sharing balloon history and a toast with "New Mexico Bubbly” (or soda or water if preferred) and traditional "New Mexico Biscochitos". We know you might only take one hot air balloon ride in your life, so we try to make it memorable.
What else do we need to bring?
You are welcome to record your flight with a camera. Large camera lenses are discouraged as they tend to bounce and swing on landings. We are not responsible for damage to any personal items. The Pilot will remind you prior to landing to securely stow the camera and any other loose items. We provide bottled water for during and after the flight. Sunglasses and a hat are usually a good idea with the New Mexico sunshine.
Can we tip the Pilot and Crew?
Yes, the crew's only compensation is your tips! The Pilot typically uses tips to take the crew out to breakfast after the flight. They do an amazing job to make sure your flight is safe and a memorable experience. Tips are appreciated.
What about children?
Around the ages of 5 or 6 years, children are tall enough to see over the side of the basket and they have the attention span to enjoy an hour flight in an open basket. We find younger children are more sensitive to the loud sound of the burners, but quickly become interested in how the balloon works. They enjoy looking for wildlife and waving to people on the ground. Generally, they enjoy the inflation and pack up process almost as much as the flight itself. For safety reasons, we discourage very small children and infants.
Is hot air ballooning safe?
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) it’s the safest way to fly. Hot air balloons are registered aircraft and follow FAA safety and maintenance standards just like commercial airliners. Our pilots are all commercially licensed by the FAA and meet rigorous standards.
How many people does it take to fly a hot air balloon? Safely launching and flying a hot air balloon typically requires at least two crew members. Under supervision of the Pilot, the duties of the crew include putting together and setting up the balloon, following the hot air balloon in the chase vehicle, talking with landowners and getting permission to land the hot air balloon on their property, and making sure the property is left as it was originally found.
How are balloons inflated?
The crew spreads the hot air balloon envelope on the ground and the basket is laid on its side. A powerful fan fills the envelope with cold air. Once the envelope is filled with air from the fan, the Pilot lights a propane burner, and heats up the air inside the balloon. With a few short squeezes of the burner, the balloon stands upright, and it is ready for launch. Typically, the entire inflation takes about 30 minutes.
What kind of hot air balloons do you use?
Our hot air balloons carry a maximum of six passengers, plus the pilot. They carry propane in steel tanks connected to a dual burners. Typical flights lasts forty-five to ninety minutes and consume about forty gallons of propane.
Which direction do we fly? Flight direction is dependent on wind speed and direction. If the wind blows the balloon towards the mountains or an FAA restricted area, we will land safely to avoid a dangerous situation. Our primary goal is to have a safe flight!
Where do hot air balloons land?
We frequently try to land in large open areas. New Mexicans love hot air balloons, and most residents and property owners are happy to have us land the balloon nearby. We look for landing sites that have access to the main road and do not have livestock. Ultimately, balloons travel with the wind, and don’t always end up at a place we have landed in the past. In that case, we respect the landowner and never damage a fence or property. We invite them to partake in our post-flight toast and strive to maintain great Landowner relations!
Do you need a license to fly a hot air balloon?
Yes, hot air balloons and balloon pilots are regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration just like airplanes and airplane pilots. All FAA certified balloons are required to have an annual inspection at a FAA approved inspection station. The hot air balloon license is earned after extensive training, passing an FAA written test, and a flight test with an FAA examiner. Currently, there are just over 4000 hot air balloon pilots in the world.
How do you control where the balloon flies?
Balloons move at the same speed and direction as the wind. Balloon pilots change altitude to try and find layers of wind moving in different directions.
What altitude will we go up to?
Typically when we fly, we will not climb higher than two thousand feet. Often we will fly low just above the treetops and try to touch the water in the Rio Grande River. It’s a pretty amazing experience.
Why are flights at sunrise?
Besides the amazing photos you’ll get, weather conditions for ballooning are best just after sunrise. Winds are generally at the lowest speeds right after sunrise.
How do you get back?
After the balloon is launched, our "chase crew" follow us in their vehicles using GPS to track our speed and direction. We also use radios to coordinate our landing plans. The crew is usually able to meet us as close to our landing spot as possible and actually “catch us” for a feather soft landing. After the balloon is deflated and packed up, we will return to the Launch site.
What should we wear?
Wear tennis shoes (closed toe shoes) and comfortable clothing. You want to be able to comfortably get in and out of the hot air balloon basket. If we land in a field, you may have to walk through dirt and weeds to get to the chase vehicle.
Does it get cold up at altitude?
At our highest altitude, less than a couple of thousand feet above the valley floor. The temperature will only be a few degrees lower than it was at ground level. Fortunately, you’ll have the heat of the burner to make up the difference. Feel free to bring a light jacket.
Where do we launch the hot air balloon from?
We launch from a large open space on the West side of the city. We safely communicate with pilots in other balloons and airplanes using two-way radios. You can be rest assured it will be a breathtaking experience of a lifetime.