Who has not once gazed dreamily at the sky when, against a setting sun, the silhouette of a hot air balloon floats by. And if you stop to think about it, you will realise that all the times you saw such a hot air balloon pass by, it was mild, calm weather. Part of the magic of a hot air balloon is the fact that it is not powered by jet engines or propellers. A balloon floats through the air and is powered by the wind. In doing so, the wind, together with weather conditions, determines the speed at which the balloon travels, the distance covered and what the final destination will be.
You are not at your mercy, but ballooning does make use of the elements in a unique way. Still, no one really controls the elements and it can therefore happen that a balloon ride cannot go ahead at the planned time and has to be postponed because the weather conditions are not good. Often, a balloon flight just goes ahead, but it is certainly not uncommon for a new date to have to be set. After all, ballooning is the most weather-dependent outdoor activity there is. When can a balloon flight be cancelled? A number of different factors come into play.
A clear blue sky is no guarantee
If the sky is clear and bright blue, this does not always mean that a balloon flight can go ahead. A balloonist has undergone very extensive meteorological training and therefore knows exactly what to look out for. For example, the wind may be too strong despite the clear weather. The balloonist looks at a special balloon forecast that shows the high winds in detail. They also check whether there is a chance of rain or thunderstorms developing or if low-hanging clouds are moving into the country.
It is common for a hot air balloon to fly between April and October. Ballooning can be done all year round, but between April and October is the season. Contrary to popular belief, this is mainly because of the favourable weather conditions during that period and not because the temperature is too low in winter. After all, the principle of a hot air balloon is simple: warm air is lighter than cold air and therefore rises. So, in theory, it takes less effort to make the air inside the balloon warmer than the outside air on a cold day than in summer.
Indeed, during a heat wave, it can get so hot that it takes too much effort to heat the air in the balloon sufficiently compared to the outside air. Comfort also plays a role, of course. At CuliAir, a gourmet dinner is enjoyed, and then the temperature has to remain pleasant. When the temperature is so low that it is no longer comfortable, or when extreme heat makes it so hot that it takes too much energy for the balloon to take off, the balloon ride will be rescheduled.
A hot air balloon sails best in stable and light winds of wind force 1 to 2. As the wind force increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to fill the balloon with air and the force on the balloon gradually becomes too great. The limit is at wind force scale 3. You can recognise this by a palpable wind, which can even be quite fresh at the coast. At wind force scale 4 or higher, the balloon flight will always be moved.
In some cases, the wind direction can also throw a spanner in the works. After all, the balloon cannot be steered and sails with the wind. The landing opportunities that present themselves must be taken into account. If this is not convenient, relocation will also be necessary.
Although you have some protection in a hot air balloon because of the balloon above you, rain from the side can still make passengers quite wet. Moreover, the rain can run from the balloon down into the basket, which is not pleasant either. In addition, rain falling on the balloon can cause the air to cool down faster, requiring the burners to be used more often to reheat the air. The heavier the rain, the more the air has to be reheated again. The amount of propane gas used for this purpose is limited. Since the rain also makes the balloon heavier, this means it is no longer possible to fly the distance we would like.
It probably needs no explanation, but balloon flights are always cancelled in the event of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms do not always have to be at the departure point – or in its vicinity – to throw a spanner in the works. Conditions are affected up to a distance of sixty kilometres in the event of a thunderstorm.
A hot air balloon falls under visual flight rules. The rules for visual flight stipulate that visibility must be at least 500 meters vertically and 8 kilometers horizontally clear. If this is not the case, the hot air balloon flight will have to be moved.
What happens if the balloon ride cannot go ahead?
So unfortunately it may happen that a hot air balloon ride cannot take place one time, or even several times. Unfortunately we have no influence on the weather conditions. On the day of the balloon flight you will be contacted by phone about the flight. You will also receive details about the departure location. If the flight is cancelled, you will receive a voucher code to book a new date. More information about the program and answers to frequently asked questions can be found on the FAQ page.