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The reasons why it is safe to balloon in the UK

24/11/2014 Jo Bailey Features

When thinking about taking a hot air balloon ride, the one thing that holds a lot of people back is wondering whether or not hot air balloons are really safe.

So many people who would love to soar in the skies on a wonderful hot air balloon flight never take the opportunity to do so, because they often have niggling doubts. However, they really should, as there is little to fear when it comes to riding in a balloon in the UK.

Hot air balloons are generally very safe. Lots of people take to their balloons every weekend, whether to race, take part in a hot air balloon ride, or enjoy the scenery as they pass it by. In fact, hot air balloons are much safer than many other forms of manned flight, which people often embark upon without a second thought.

How balloons work

Hot air balloons are made up of an envelope, which is the large ‘bag’ or balloon shape that you see inflated when the craft is in flight, and a basket, where the passengers and pilot stand.

In order to lift the balloon off the ground, the air in the envelope is heated by a flame, which is located in a burner below its opening. To descend during flight, the pilot is able to release air from the balloon by opening a valve. When the pilot wishes to land, he or she simply lets out so much air that the balloon reaches the ground. This is basically how hot air balloons work.

Weather conditions

Of course, hot air balloons are at the whim of the weather, travelling as they do with the current on the wind. This is often what worries people who would otherwise take a hot air balloon flight, but what they do not realise is that pilots still have some control over the craft, no matter what the weather. They also choose times to fly, when the weather conditions will be most favourable. As pilots for reputable British companies will have a lot of experience, they know just how and when to safely fly a hot air balloon.

Typically, pilots will choose to balloons when there is a low wind. This makes hot air balloon flights extremely safe, because the balloon will only gently drift along in the sky. High winds and snow should be avoided when hot air ballooning, as they can cause the craft to be buffered. However, no experienced hot air balloon pilot would ever fly in such conditions, so there is little chance of ever being caught out by such weather.

Equipment and training

Good pilots also check their equipment before every hot air balloon flight, and most take back up fuel with them, so that every eventuality is planned for. Pilots must also have a license to fly, and they are rigorously tested before obtaining one.

Pilots in the UK who take paying passengers have to complete an even more extensive training course before they can fly, so as you can see, there is nothing about hot air balloon rides to fear.

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