A ride in a hot air balloon is an exciting experience which allows unique views over landscapes and villages that are otherwise only seen from the ground. But what if you are afraid of flying (as is my case), is it possible to enjoy the experience at all?
Here is a list of things to be aware when planning a hot-air balloon trip in Luxembourg!
1. Know your pilot (or at least the company you will fly with)
It is important that you fly with a reputable pilot. Someone that has the experience and the know-how to take you o a hot-air balloon trip. Make sure your pilot has not only the necessary courses (in meteorology, aeronautics and navigation), and that he has the FAA certification. Moreover, after all the theory, it is important that your pilot has also the practice. So asking for the number of flying hours of the pilot is not a bad idea.
2. What to wear
Even if the flight is in summer time, it will get cool at some point. Either because balloon rides take place very early in the morning (with the sunrise) or late in the afternoon (with sunset), and because the balloon will eventually take some altitude, to heights where temperatures are also chiller. The occasional hot flame from the burner spreads heat not only into the air balloon but also to the people in the basket, but that’s not enough to keep you warm throughout the ride. Remember to bring a warm sweater or jacket that you can wear or remove according to your taste.
3. The launch process
The launching of the balloon is almost as exciting as the flight itself. First the crew attachede the burner system to the basket and then they attached the balloon envelope. As passengers, we could help with laying out and opening the envelope on the ground. Once the colourful balloon was laid out, it was time for the crew to inflate it with the help of a fan to send the hot air into the envelope. Once the envelope was in the vertical position, it was necessary to hold the basket down and only then, crew and passengers were welcome on board.
4. The flight
Riding a hot air balloon is not comparable with the experience of flying in a plane. The experience is much softer and, in my case, it does not come with a terrifying fear. Perhaps because we actually get to see the pilot and can follow all his movements, which in itself gives a better indication of what is happening.
The hot air balloon is a soft glide, which offers a silent drift inside a basket, a perfect moment to fully enjoy the landscape around us. I simply never had the feeling that I was flying, it was almost as if we were floating in the air.
5. The landing
For the landing, it is necessary that the crew on board communicates with the crew on the land, so that they crew on land goes to the place where the balloon will land. Before flying in a balloon we were not aware that the pilot cannot choose the precise location where he will land. At least not from the beginning of the flight. That’s because he cannot change the direction of the flight as he pleases. Mostly, he depends on the winds and air temperatures.
As the pilot can only place the balloon at different altitudes (he adds heat to go up and lets the balloon naturally go slowly down without adding hot air into the balloon), he needs to place the balloon at different altitudes, at specific moments whenever he wants to change the direction of the flight. It is not an easy task, and therefore, it is good to be with someone who knows what to do!
6. The baptism
After landing, and sometimes some passengers are invited to give the pilot a hand by jumping over board and pulling the rope that will help with the landing of the balloon, some companies offer a breakfast or a glass of champagne. In our flight in Luxembourg, the pilot decided to make a small ceremony and we all got baptised with champagne…
For a unique hot-air balloon flight through the north of Luxembourg check this very experienced company.