Imagine yourself sitting in a basket attached to a giant nylon balloon 400 feet above the ground which is filled with 50,000 cubic feet of hot air. One of the most popular adventure sports, Hot air ballooning makes your feel like top of the world, literally. It must be mentioned that to become an expert hot air balloon pilot, one must be over 16 years of age and the full training may take three to six months.
Hot-air ballooning first started in the year 1783, but it soon lost its popularity and relevance as a transport medium with the advent of air planes. However, since last century, we are witnessing a revival of sorts, with the ballooning re-emerging as a popular adventure sport.
Ballooning is best enjoyed after sunrise when the winds are at their calmest, and the most favorable conditions are during the winter season. And if it’s summer time then an early morning flight is preferred. The duration is not fixed, as it depends on weight carried on the day, wind pressure and temperature. Taking into consideration all of these factors, the Pilot may increase or decrease the final duration.
The speed of a balloon is equivalent to that of wind at that time and high wind landing requires professional experience and skill. The passenger capacity depending upon the size of the balloon varies from 2 in sport balloons to 12 persons in passenger balloons. The flight is tracked by the balloon crew who are responsible for the safety and safer landing. There are no seats in the basket and one has to stand for the duration of full flight. The walls of balloon are mostly four feet high, and children below 12 years of age must be accompanied by adults.
The temperature inside the balloon is equivalent to the ground temperature so clothing should be exactly what one wears during a hiking trip which includes sturdy shoes, sunglasses, cap and gloves. And photography enthusiasts must never forget to carry their camera with them as you will certainly witness several picturesque and breathtaking views from the top. Usually the maximum height of group joyrides is between 200 and 500 feet, though balloons can rise up to 800 feet and above!
In India, ballooning is highly popular and ever-emerging sport. In Delhi, a balloon mela is organized annually where anyone may take the joyful ride. A countrywide network of amateur and professionals exists with facilities and services for ballooning. Several international balloon festivals and demonstration are organized by the Ballooning Club of India every year. The major ballooning clubs in India exist at Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Jaipur and Dehradun. Famous ballooning expeditions in India includes a balloon ride over the Taj Mahal in which one may witness the majestic view of Taj Mahal alongside River Yamuna, or the thrilling experience of ballooning over the picturesque sand dunes and plains of Rajasthan. Apart from short distance traveling from between towns and historical sites, ballooning is also arranged with as a package with other adventure sports like balloon-cum-camel or horse safari.