Quechee Balloon Rides LC takes great pride in the beautiful community of Quechee Vermont offering both natural scenery and historical landmarks. You will experience an unrivaled view of Quechee's covered bridges, picturesque farms, rivers, and if the winds cooperate, the "Quechee Gorge," making your hot air balloon experience truly magical.
Hot air balloons are the ideal mode of transport for those wishing an adventure. The adventure aspect in the sport of hot air ballooning is that no two flights are alike and each flight is determined by "where Mother Nature takes us."
A Typical Hot Air Balloon Flight
Quechee Balloon Rides meets its passengers at the Quechee Village Green, located in the heart of Quechee, overlooking a waterfall and covered bridge. After introductions are made, our pilot and crew leads a brief safety discussion, and answer any questions the passengers may have.
The pilot then releases a small helium balloon known as a "pi-ball" or pilot ball. The pilot and crew carefully watch and examine this test balloon's ascent, noting the direction, speed, and any variation to either as well as at what altitude those changes took place. Combining this real time information with aviation weather forecasts and FAA flight service weather briefings, the pilot creates a flight plan. Based on the wind direction the pilot may chose to use an alternate launch site to align the flight path with both scenic features and potential landing sites to provide the best flight possible.
Once weather conditions are determined safe, the setting up and the inflation process begins. This lasts approximately 15 minutes. The crew attaches the balloon to the basket and spreads the fabric on the ground, while the pilot inspects and checks all equipment. A fan is used to blow cold air into the balloon.. When the balloon is almost full, the pilot uses the "burner" to heat the air inside the balloon allowing the balloon and basket to become upright. It is now ready for the passengers to climb in and get final instructions.
Take off is surprisingly smooth and gentle and often it's hard to notice exactly when the balloon leaves the ground. Wave goodbye to the chase crew, and experience an entirely new and magical adventure. The beginning portion of the flight is often spent at low altitude and at low speed. You may try grabbing a leaf as we gracefully float by the treetops and look below for any wildlife. Look at your reflection as we pass over a river or pond. We may try to dip into the water for a "splash and dash". Once in the air, the balloon speed matches the surrounding currents. You almost don't realize you are moving.
At some point during the flight the pilot gains altitude to get a view, increase speed, and cover distance . The small details of earth below slowly fade away as a much larger field of view comes into focus. Vermont's Green Mountain range dominates the horizon; Killington, Camel's Hump, Mount Mansfield and even the White Mountain range of New Hampshire can be seen on clear days. Witness a completly unobstructed 360 degree view of Vermont.
Although the pilot technically is not able to "steer" a balloon, he does have excellent control over up and down. To change the direction of the balloon the pilot makes adjustments to the balloons altitude, placing the balloon in different wind currents. Typically balloons increase speed with altitude, and also experience some change in direction. The only time slight wind is felt during the flight is when the balloon enters a new wind current. It takes a few seconds for the balloon to react and match the surrounding wind. A slight breeze felt on the forehead indicates the balloon is traveling faster than the surrounding air and is going to slow down; a breeze on the neck is followed by an increase of speed.
Throughout the flight, the chase crew will follow the balloon on the ground. They will keep in contact with radios, as well as visual contact. They will try to be close when the balloon lands. Typical landing sites include open fields, neighborhood streets or private residences where most people are happy to have us “drop in”. We always invite the landowners and their children to get in the balloon and take pictures if they like. As a thank you for their hospitality, a traditional bottle of champagneor maple syrup (since we are in Vermont) is given.
The crew will then help deflate and pack up the balloon and return the passengers to the launch site where a post flight champagne toast and refreshments are served.