Why Do Hot Air Balloons Fly In The Early Morning And Late Evening?
Hot air balloons are a fun way to enjoy the beauty of nature. They offer an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't experience what it's like to fly. But if you've ever looked into booking a hot air balloon ride you might find that there's limited time slots available.
Most ballooners only offer sunrise and sunset cruises. But why are mornings and evenings preferred? Is it because the early bird gets the worm and people simply love the golden hours? In the below article we'll outline some of the common reasons why hot air balloons are typically flown in the early morning and late evening.
The Simple Science Why
Early on, we're taught that hot air rises. Pilots use this principle by heating the air inside a hot air balloon envelope. This make the air molecules inside the envelope lighter than those surrounding it. The hotter the air, the more lift it can provide which is why ballooners typically heat their balloons to around 150 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hot air rises because hot molecules are less dense and therefore take up a greater amount of space per molecule. As they hit your hand you feel them as warm without feeling them as dense. The hotter the air, the more space between each molecule and therefore will provide greater lift.
This concept is why hot air balloons are typically flown in the early morning or late evening hours when temperatures are cooler than during midday. However there's other factors to take into consideration that determine whether a certain time of day works best for your specific flight.
Other Factors to Consider
The time of day is also dependent on how you plan to travel during your balloon ride and what the goal for that particular trip may be. For example, some flights are only meant to carry a couple of passengers. If there are a lot of points of interest and scenic views on the agenda, then it's best done in the early morning or evening hours when there's less traffic.
During summer months, many pilots prefer to fly early in the morning because it can provide a relief from the heat and allow them to achieve higher altitudes without hitting dangerously high temperatures.
In the winter months, pilots typically fly in the early morning hours when there's a high pressure system present and little to no wind because they provide ideal conditions for flying. Other factors that determine the ideal flight time be location as well as potential weather patterns along the desired flight path.
Wind patterns are typically the most difficult factor to determine what time of day is best because they can change rapidly. Wind forecasts are usually available a few days prior, which helps pilots make their flight plans, but things do happen. Historically, hot air balloon rides have a very high cancellation rate because of the unpredictability of wind. It's not to say that balloon rides can't be enjoyed in higher winds, but it does make for a more challenging flight. This why pilots typically prefer to fly when there's little or no wind present.
Flying in windy conditions isn't necessarily unsafe as long as you have plenty of altitude and visibility. Having a pilot that is experienced in these conditions is critical too. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates all commercial ballooning and they require a minimum of two hours of night training. This includes operating the burner during low wind conditions, setting up equipment prior to launch, and operating the valves and burner during ascent/descent. Performing emergency landing procedures is also part of the pilot's training.
Unfortunately, there's not an easy way to determine if it will be windy or calm on any given day at a particular time but pilots typically like making early morning flights because they provide them with more options in case conditions don't work out.
There's a lot to consider when it comes down to the best time of day for your hot air balloon ride. Fortunately, as a passenger, that responsibility doesn't fall on your shoulders. As long as you have an experienced pilot and good weather conditions, most times will be a great time for flying.
If you're looking to find a hot air balloon ride and have specific time constraints, it is best to contact your local provider directly for further information about when they typically fly. Most companies offer morning flights from around the hours of 5AM to 12PM. And later in the day hot air balloons will typically fly between 3PM to 7PM.
There's a variety of websites that you can use to book your next hot air balloon ride. It's important to remember, however, that the time of day will be reliant on what works best for the pilot and their schedule. Because of that we recommend using our database to locate the top hot air balloon companies and contacting them directly to make your dream trip a reality.