Experts in the Art of Flight
When is the best time to fly a balloon?
While we offer flights year round (weather permitting) our main flying season goes from May through October. We schedule all flights in the early mornings when temperatures are low and the winds are calm, making for the safest flight possible.
How long will the whole experience take?
Plan to be with us approximately two and a half to three hours for the whole ballooning experience. We will meet at our launch field, take the time to get to know all our passengers and introduce our pilot and ground crew members. Next, the pilot will give a preflight briefing in which he will explain procedures and answer any questions. Guests are more than welcome to assist in the setup and inflation of the hot air balloon. The flight ranges anywhere from 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, although most of our hot air balloon flights average about an hour. When it’s time to land, our experienced ground crew will be close at hand to assist with deflating and packing up the hot air balloon for return to the launch site. We will then join in a customary celebration to toast our balloon flight.
How Cold Is It Up There?
For the most part, it is no colder during the flight than it is on the ground. We recommend that you dress the same way you would for any outdoor activity on the ground at that hour of the day. Layered clothing is best, temperatures vary greatly from sunrise to mid morning. We require that you wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes (no sandals or high heels) and recommend long pants, hat, and sunglasses.
How high do we go?
Our altitude will vary between tree top height and about 2,000 ft above ground depending on wind directions. Balloons can however go much higher, the world record for altitude in a hot air balloon is 65,000 feet.
What time do we meet?
We meet about thirty minutes after sunrise. Therefore, times vary throughout the year. Be sure to ask for the official meeting time when you call to confirm your flight. Confirmation is made by calling 541-316-0398 the day before your flight.
What areas will we fly over, and what might we see?
Leaving from Terrebonne OR this flight offers stunning 360 degree views from Smith Rock State Park to the central Cascades highlighted by the Three Sisters, Mt. Bachelor, and Mt. Jefferson just to name a few. Our surroundings also include numerous ancient lava buttes as well as the Deschuttes and Crooked River canyons. Wildlife may include deer, fox, coyote, and various birds of prey.
What If I’m Afraid Of Heights?
Most people who claim to be afraid of heights find that, once they get into the balloon and get off of the ground, their fears are unfounded. Flying in a balloon is so very different from anything else they’ve ever done and there is a sense of security within the basket. There is no sense of movement and the balloon itself is extremely smooth, stable and not subject to the up and down air currents that affect fixed wing planes.
Why can’t I bring a young child along?
Children under the age of 8 have a short attention span and a few minutes into a one hour flight are wondering what else there is to do. We’ve found that this distraction often prevents other passengers from enjoying their flight. They also are often frightened by the sound of the burners. When landing, all passengers need to fend for themselves – mom and dad cannot be trying to hold their kids in AND themselves at the same time. As a result, younger children have an increased chance of injury especially if a larger adult lands on them during a breezy landing. For these reasons, we have established that a minimum age of 8 is required in order to participate in our flights.
Do You Need A License To Pilot A Balloon?
Yes. To fly passengers for hire balloon pilots must have a commercial pilot’s certificate especially for balloons issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
How do you steer this thing?
Since hot air balloons fly with the wind, they can’t be steered like a car or airplane. However, skilled pilots can direct a balloon by maneuvering to find subtle changes in wind speed and direction. We have very accurate altitude control by using the burners to heat the air in the balloon and by climbing and descending. We can use these wind direction changes to adjust our course.
How far in advance do I need to reserve a flight?
Schedule as early as possible and plan ahead. Weekends are very popular. As a rule of thumb, we recommend booking your preferred flight date at least two weeks in advance to ensure it will be available. However, last-minute bookings and schedule changes are always possible – just give us a call to find out if we have immediate availability. We can sometimes schedule your flight on very short notice.
Do I need to do anything else after reservations are made?
Yes. You must call us to confirm your flight. Confirmation is made by calling 541-316-0398 on the day before your morning flight (between 12:00 PM and 8:00 PM). Based on the weather forecast and actual conditions, we will make the final decision at that time to either meet at the launch field or postpone the flight for another day. Do not assume the weather is good enough or too bad that we won’t fly – call us to confirm. If you do not check in, we will automatically assume you don’t plan to arrive for the flight. Therefore, it is vital that you call to check in. We will not contact you except in extraordinary situations.
Can I bring a camera?
Absolutely! You are encouraged to bring along a camera or small video recorder. You’ll be able to capture beautiful pictures aloft to remember your flight and show friends your exciting adventure. However, please use a neck or wrist strap, and make sure to bring a padded bag or case to stow your camera before final landing. We cannot be responsible for personal belongings. Bring twice as much film/memory as you think you’ll need, and then some! Many people run out of pictures in the first few minutes of flight.
What if I need to make changes to my reservation? Are there any refunds?
We have a generous cancellation policy to protect everyone in case plans happen to change between the time of reservation and the scheduled flight time. Cancellations and changes to your reservations can be made up to 72 hours prior to the scheduled flight time with no consequences.
How many people will fit in a balloon? How many other people will be flying with us?
Our hot air balloon can carry up to six passengers, depending upon passenger weight, ambient temperatures and weather. The majority of our balloon rides are flown with a total of four to six passengers plus the pilot. Therefore, on a standard flight, singles and couples will generally be paired with at least another couple. Exclusive private flights are always available to reserve the basket for your own party of two or more for more personal adventures. Group rates apply for six or more passengers booked at one time.
What about a gratuity for the pilot and crew members?
Although not required, it is common practice to tip these hard-working individuals. Like any personal service, if they do their job well, it shows your appreciation for their attention to detail. An appropriate amount would be 10-15% and can be given directly to your pilot. You may also add the gratuity to your credit card after the flight.
So what’s your real job?
This is it! I’ve been flying balloons professionally for nearly 25 years. I also manage and operate Panacea at the Canyon.