Hot Air Ballooning captures a mystical freedom as the natural elements of wind, flame and hot air, carry the balloon on a unique journey through the skies. No flight path can be pre-planned or arranged, only the skills of the pilot ascending and descending the hot air balloon in order to catch alternating wind directions, can impact on the direction of the balloon.
The original method of transporting passengers is still maintained to this day. Standing in a basket made of natural wicker, free of restrictions (i.e. no seat belt, no harness - in fact, no seat!) creates feelings of liberation, as it is possible to float in the sky so unhindered and free. The stillness and calm is unexpected. No chilling winds blow through the open basket, as the aircraft flows with the wind, not against it. Only the warmth and the occasional blast from the burners remind one of the pilot's inter action with this amazing, yet simplistic, aircraft.
From the earth on takeoff, to the power of fire as the flame is used to heat the air in the balloon, to the forces of nature, as gravity is defied and the hot air lifts the balloon to be caught by the waiting winds. No other form of flight can be as close to nature as hot air ballooning, an aspect that AirVentures holds appreciation for, as every flight is truly a privilege.
Arriving before sunrise, the crew slide the basket from its trailer and unpack the enormous envelope from its holding bag. The envelope is made from a lightweight material called rip stop nylon which is not only designed to prevent tearing, but can also sustain temperatures in excess of 120 degs C. The footprint left by the rigging of the balloon ready for flight is absolutely minimal, no oil stains, no fuel spillage, no noxious fumes, just a couple of bent blades of grass and sometimes, maybe a slight tyre track from the vehicle towing the trailer.
Air is blown into the envelope by use of a fan. This is probably the noisiest part of the whole operation, but lasts for a very short time, varying by the size of the envelope. The flame required to heat the air in the Hot Air Balloon (or to be technically correct "the air in the envelope") is powered by propane gas. Propane is the instant high-energy source of LPG, giving off both water and nitrogen as by products, and is considered to be a "clean" gas making it environmentally friendly.
No runways with meters of tarmac, are needed to launch a Hot Air Balloon. No destruction of any ecologically sensitive environment is ever needed, any reasonably flat and grassy area will suffice. With just a few blasts from the burners, the air is heated to the point where the aircraft is lifted immediately from the ground, and up into the sky. From unpacking to launching, minimal space is required, resulting in a minimum impact on the environment.
During the flight, short bursts from the burners are needed to control vertical flight, the increased hot air causing the balloon to rise, and catch variable wind directions. Eventually the cooler air outside the balloon, will cause the temperature inside to drop and the balloon will descend at the will of the experienced pilot.
A Hot Air Balloon flight in its purest form, is a combination of skilful engineering, and natural resources, using the power of natural elements and the skill of the pilot. It offers a unique way of viewing the world without restriction, and at times in perfect silence.
FGASA (Field Guides Association of South Africa) is an organisation that promotes and governs the development of field guides. It has set guiding standards for many years, and continues to maintain the highest standards for the guiding industry. FGASA aims to promote a culture of professional guiding based on a strong ethical, safety conscious approach, to provide the visitor to the African bush and environs with a pleasant, well informed and memorable experience.
AirVentures promotes the FGASA qualification within its organisation and has pilot and ground crew FGASA qualified employees. We are thus able to provide a truly informative African adventure.