Hot Air Balloon Flight
Our flights take off once daily and only in the early morning, just after dawn.
When the team gets to the launch field, pilot and crew start by laying out the hot air balloon, positioning the basket on its side and laying the balloon envelope out in front of it.
The envelope is then securely tied on to the basket before one or two large fans are positioned at the opening of the balloon. The balloon is initially inflated with cold air from the fan, whilst in a horizontal position. Once the balloon is half full with cold air, we move on to the hot inflation and hot air from the burners is blown into the balloon. Slowly but surely the balloon will start rising to a “standing” position. With this motion the basket that was once on its side, is now upright and ready for flight!
The setup and inflation takes about 35 minutes.
Once the hot air balloon is ready, passengers are invited on board and given a short safety briefing and instructions by their pilot. The burners are then fully activated and the balloon will gently rise from the ground and slowly take flight. The flight is approximately one hour long depending on wind speed, direction and weather conditions, which may influence the duration of the flight.
Part of the magic of flying in a hot air balloon is that we never know exactly where we may land. A hot air balloon can’t be steered directly; it drifts with the wind, so we may land in a big sunflower field, on a dirt track next to a vineyard, or maybe on the grounds of a castle.
Despite not knowing the exact landing spot, the pilot keeps a constant close watch on the local wind patterns and prior to flight will consult the most updated weather bulletins from several sources and the airport. This will enable him to know the general direction the flight will take.
The wind currents usually travel in different directions depending on the altitude and it is these layered winds that are used by experienced pilots to navigate the balloon. Throughout the flight the pilot is in radio contact with the ground crew in the chase vehicle and Air Traffic Control.
Once the pilot has identified a good landing field, he will start the descent and inform the passengers when to adopt the landing position shown during the safety briefing.
The landing may be very gentle and soft if there isn’t much wind or it might impact the ground with some force and drag for a few metres before reaching a halt. This is all normal and done in complete safety.
After landing, while the balloon is deflated and packed away, we celebrate the magical experience with a traditional hot air balloon toast and a glass of Prosecco. Passengers are then invited to enjoy our beautifully presented picnic on the landing field, offering a selection of carefully chosen local products.
After breakfast we conclude our time with our passengers by driving back to the launch field. The whole adventure takes about 2½ hours.
Although we fly all year round, the “Ballooning Season” is approximately March to November, with annual variations. Weather in Chianti can be unpredictable at times, especially in early spring. The summer months are usually the most popular and have the most stable weather conditions, but early winter flights can be stunning as well, with crystal clear views and steady north easterly winds.
All flights are subject to the weather, and for safety reasons we only fly with optimal conditions. A flight will be cancelled without hesitation should the weather conditions be unsuitable, despite the disappointment this may cause. The decision is usually made on the day before the scheduled flight and the final say lies solely with the pilot in command.
If the flight is cancelled, we do our best to reschedule to a possible alternative date.
Ballooning is a safe and fun activity for people of all ages, but it is an outdoor activity and there are some individuals for whom ballooning may not be appropriate (see FAQs).