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Understanding safety measures for UK hot air balloons

26/02/2021 philip Features

Whether you’re riding in a hot air balloon in Bath or Bristol, you’re sure to find the experience both exhilarating and relaxing. Hot air balloons are an exceptionally safe way to sail through the skies, and ballooning is regulated to exacting standards by the Civil Aviation Authority, ensuring passengers are always in the hands of expert pilots and under the care of strict safety protocols.

Hot air balloon flights are only scheduled for early mornings and evenings, when the air temperature is ideal, and they never take off in poor weather conditions. Balloons drift with the breeze and the passenger basket is suspended below, experiencing no turbulence or chills from the wind.

While this makes for extremely pleasant airborne adventures, in order to ensure absolute passenger safety, there are a few points to consider that may affect whether you are able to safely fly by hot air balloon.

A question of height

For safety’s sake and for full enjoyment of the experience, children taking a trip must be at least seven years old and four feet and six inches or over in height. This not only allows them to grasp the passenger basket edge safely, but also provides a clear view of the amazing vistas on offer.

No babies onboard

Balloon operators always recommend that those who are pregnant do not fly. The good news is that if you find out you have a baby on the way after booking, you can always receive a refund or reschedule your flight for a later date.

Flying with a disability or medical condition

While some special mobility needs make it impossible to access the passenger basket, today’s balloon operators will always do their utmost to open up the experience of ballooning to those with a disability or special needs wherever possible. Passengers with a long-term or recent medical condition should always consult their doctor for health and safety advice specific to their illness before booking a hot air balloon ride.

Whether you have a disability or a medical condition, total transparency is key. Always explain your personal wellbeing issues with your balloon operator prior to booking your flight to receive expert advice on what is the safest course of action to take.

Staying safe during the pandemic

The Civil Aviation Authority has granted UK hot air balloons its approval to operate flights from March 2021 onwards. Safety measures insist that all passengers use hand sanitiser and face masks during flights, and that baskets are intensively cleaned between excursions.

In order to provide comprehensive passenger safety, all balloonists and support staff have undergone rigorous COVID-19 training and received multiple achievement awards, such as AA Covid-19 Confident and England Good to Go.

In summary, while there are certain circumstances that make it unsafe for individuals to fly by balloon, such as a condition, their height or personal circumstances, these hot air rides are designed to be safe. The thrill of hot air ballooning comes not from risks and danger, but from the astonishing views attained by gaining such a perspective over our beautiful landscape.

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