Winds are generally calm and favorable the first hours after sunrise and the last hours before sunset. The sun’s uneven heating of the earth’s surface causes strong, variable winds making afternoon flights unpredictable. In the morning, it takes a few hours to heat the earth’s surface enough to generate the thermal activity that creates wind. In the evening, the sun’s intensity has diminished enough to reduce winds to acceptable flight levels. Ideal winds for commercial flights are 3-6 mph.
Usually a balloon flight lasts about an hour. At an average wind speed of about 5 mph, a balloon will fly 2 – 8 miles. Ground crews follow the balloon, talking on the radio with the pilot. The balloon will land in an open area with the ground crew there to help recover the equipment and to take the pilot and passengers back to the launch site.
The distance a balloon covers depends heavily on the wind speed in the area it is flying. The average pleasure or romantic flight can range anywhere from three miles and up to ten miles from the launch site.
Rolling Northern California foothills and heritage ranch lands! Depending on the flight direction, passengers will see beautiful vineyards, wild land conservation areas, lush green farms or all of the above. In the morning hours native wild life is incredibly active, giving passengers a chance to view herds of deer, coyotes and ducks among many other species. Bring your camera and plenty of space for pictures!
Some hot air balloons can hold up to 30 passengers. Here at Sky Drifters we have chosen to keep the experience personal and limit the size of our balloons to a maximum of four to eight passengers. Hot air balloons vary in both envelope and basket sizes. Contact the ride company you plan to ride with for questions regarding the number of passengers you will be flying with.