Congratulations! Your balloon flight should be an amazing experience that you will always remember! Here a few things that we have noticed that might make your experience special.
The Meeting: Ballooning is an early morning sport in order to take advantage of the cooler mornings and calmer winds. So, painful as it is, you will be getting up before sunrise and driving to the launch site. You want to show up rested and ready for a fun morning. Hopefully you had a great night sleep and did not stay our late and party.
Have the meeting the address plugged into your phone so you can navigate to the launch site easily. If you are running late or lost, call and let the staff know you are enroute.
Getting In the basket: The nylon envelope is full of air, the pilot is motioning for you to climb in, and that little guy on your shoulder says "What are you doing?". Don't listen to him. Smile and climb into the basket. There is no graceful way to do it. Just climb in. (Your knees really do bend that way and you really looked pretty graceful!)
Slide to the side of the basket and make room for the next rider who is trying to figure out their graceful way to climb in. Feet first is preferred, but head first works...Just kidding!
Here we go: The Pilot will make the burners roar, you will feel the warmth of the flame and in a moment it happens, you realize you have left the ground and are floating away. As a Pilot, experience says the first thing most people do is grab their cell phone and want to call someone at home who is sleeping. DON'T DO IT! Relax, take a deep breath and enjoy the sensation of gently rising with no noise. Realize you can't even feel the wind and you are slowly drifting across the landscape. Take another deep breath and know you are really living! It's an exhilarating feeling!
The middle of the flight: Now is the time to get out the camera and take a few selfies and panoramic pictures, The sun has climbed into the sky and your pictures will come out much better. Call your friends and say "Guess where I am?" As soon as they hear the burner you can smile ear to ear and say "Yep, I'm in a hot air balloon!" They will be happy for you and happy that you waited thirty minutes to give them a little more sleep.
The landing: As you get ready to land, the Pilot will give a pre-landing briefing. simply put, bend your knees and hold on. A little tip: if you have a camera on a strap around your neck, secure the camera so it's not swinging when you land. Most of the time the landing is uneventful. You won't even feel like you are a dare-devil. However,,, once in a while, we have a "sporty" landing. That means the basket will bounce a little, and drag across the open field. Even if the basket tips on it's side, just hold on (now you can feel a little dare-devilish). In a moment, the balloon comes to a stop and you can quit holding your breath. After all, the FAA says ballooning is the safest form of transportation,
The Celebration: Every Pilot has some sort of traditional ceremony that they do after landing. It's your chance to stand there and bask in the glory that you did your first balloon ride and you were never even nervous (okay,,, maybe a little). Just like Montgolfier, you have defied gravity and lived to tell about it! Have a glass of champagne to celebrate!
The bottom line: Ballooning is very safe and once you do it, you will know the freedom that birds experience as they float on the wind. Your heart will skip a beat with joy as you remember your first flight. That my friends is the magic of ballooning!