Thank you! To all our passengers who have joined us on previous flights and thank you to the passengers who have booked flights with us well into the month of May already.
Without your enthusiasm and hunger for adventure our days here in the office would be dull and boring.
Hot air balloon ride passengers usually arrive at the flight venue very nervous and excited. The nervousness disappears and turns into an adrenaline rush when the Pilot starts inflating the massive envelope of the balloon.
This is the experience that our guests, Victor&Natasha, Johann & Corli and Biance & Ashly had one our last flight
The envelope is the beautiful coloured material part of the hot air balloon. The envelope is made up of a combination of nylon and polyester, the same material that parachutes are made of. The “scoop” is the large piece of material closest to the burners, and this material is made of Nomex. This is a fire-resistant material.
Our passengers then slowly start to lift up and then drift away once the Pilot has given his thumb’s up.
The Pilot of the balloon can not steer the balloon, and thus rides the soft air-currents and winds for a hour. Whilst aimlessly drifting over the Magalies River Valley our passengers experience one of the greatest miracles, the Sunrise.
The final destination of our flights are a surprise! The Pilot can estimate which direction the balloon will be going, but the final stop is a completely different scenario.
After the hot air balloon flight adventure, it is celebrated with a glass of cold sparkling wine/champagne and orange juice.
THE CHAMPAGNE TRADITION
One of the facets of ballooning that adds a certain romanticism to it that has largely been lost to other forms of flying is that it holds to certain small traditions, some of which go back to ballooning’s origins in France.
One of these traditions is for the pilot/aeronaut to present the landowner on whose property you make your final landing with a ceremonial bottle of champagne. This tradition is reputed to have started with the first balloonists in France. The first hot air balloons were filled with not just hot air but smoke, due to a slight mistake by scientists of that era who believed the lift was due to the smoke rather than the heat. Thus, early balloons landing in peasants’ farm fields were likely attacked to be attacked with stones and clubs and pitchforks, since they were obviously fire-breathing monsters. French peasants came with a certain level of sophistication, however. Early French aeronauts found that the peasants could be easily distracted if the monster’s human occupants offered them a glass of champagne. It is very unlikely that any landowner today thinks the balloons are monsters, but some remain irate until offered the champagne! (Today we offer the whole bottle!)
Another champagne tradition is the “First Flight Ceremony” which provides a memorable finish for someone taking their first free flight in a balloon. The ceremony can range from gentle and dignified to bizarre and sadistic. The gentle and dignified version, preferred by balloonists in the Eastern United States, has the pilot telling the story of the French origins of the champage ceremony. With champagne-filled glasses raised, the pilot pronounces “Mother Nature has taken you into the skies and returned you gently to Earth. Welcome to the ranks of the Aeronauts!” Glasses are touched, a cheer sounded, and the champagne given a just reward. In Albuquerque and other locales of the Western balloonist, a slightly nastier version may be inflicted on the newly initiated. The new aeronauts are made to kneel on the ground while the story is told. With the final pronouncement, champagne is poured on the victim’s head and dirt (to commemorate the return to earth) sprinkled onto their wet hair for good measure. The Germans are apparently the most sadistic of all. Word has it that they add to the Western U.S. version , and burn the ends of the hair of the probably horrified new aeronauts to commemorate the fire that took them aloft!