You can find answers to some of our most commonly asked questions here:
Why so early!?
Ok. This is probably the #1 most asked question! There is a reason why we fly so early in the morning! Balloon flight requires very stable weather conditions in which to conduct a gentle and safe flying experience for our guests. The first couple of hours after sunrise is generally the most stable time of day. This is when the air is the coolest (cold air sinks and descending air is stable air). Therefore, surface winds are generally at their calmest. During the late morning and early afternoon hours the air becomes more unstable as rising columns of hot air (sometimes visible as ‘dust devils’ or thermals as they are known as scientifically!) rise off the warm (or hot) desert floor. This creates a rather unstable (and perhaps violent) air mass that is not conducive for safe balloon flight. If that isn’t reason enough, we believe the most beautiful time of day is during these early hours when the Arizona desert is just coming alive and the sights, sounds, and smell of the desert are at their peak. Arizona also has some of the most beautiful sunrises! Even on those rare overcast mornings, Arizona has a way of creating a most visually stunning sunrise! Especially near the Superstition Mountains and Lake Pleasant! Sunrise is also the only time we can offer our stunningly spectacular flights near the Supersition Mountain or Lake Pleasant. The early morning micro weather, as well as katabatic wind flows (I’ll let you google that one!), allow us to make these awesome flights!
During Arizona’s winter months, when the daytime temperatures are only in the 60’s and 70’s for high temperatures, weather conditions are again favorable for flying during the period beginning about 1 1/2 hours before sunset. This allows us another opportunity to fly and to watch the sun set on another wonderful Arizona day. For those folks who are simply not ‘morning people’, we offer these late afternoon flights from select launch locations near Maricopa, AZ during the winter months (generally November thru March). However, we recommend the morning sunrise flights as our most scenic flights.
How safe is ballooning?
This is another of the most common questions we get asked.. and it should be!!! Ballooning is one of the safest forms of flight known to man. Statistically, ballooning enjoys a very safe record. However, as with any outdoor recreational sport, there are certainly risks that are involved. However, the risks are greatly minimized when your pilot adheres to strict safety standards, with respects to the balloon equipment as well as the local weather conditions. Ballooning requires light winds (generally less than 10 mph) on the surface for a gentle inflation and, more importantly, the landing. High wind landings can be bumpy and rough. Even when winds are up around 8 to10 mph, the landings can be a bit bumpy (although passengers tend to enjoy this part of the flight!). However, Roping The Wind HABC has enjoyed a perfect safety record since we began operating and have never had a claim on our insurance due to equipment damage, property damage or injuries to passengers. Your pilot, Scott Nicol, has been piloting balloons for 27 years and with over 3000 hours of flight time can also boast a perfect safety record. It is very important to choose a company that has a strong knowledge of the local area, in terms of terrain and weather/wind conditions in these flight areas. Roping The Wind HABC not only has more experience flying the East Valley skies, but we are also based in the East Valley. Being based in our little corner of the valley also allows us to be more in tune with the local weather conditions as they continually change… right up to your scheduled flight time. You can be assured a very safe, enjoyable and relaxing balloon flight experience with us!
How high and how far will we fly?
This is a tough question, yet an easy one to answer! It is simply not possible to answer this question until the morning of your flight and, more likely, when you are actually in the balloon! Wind speed and wind direction determines how long you fly, how high you fly and how far you will travel. Our flights are always a least 1 hour in duration, or longer, depending on which flight package you choose as well as wind conditions the morning of your flight. Each of our flight areas have a rather consistent wind pattern. Typical balloon flight is around 5-10 miles, however, distance may be more or less depending on the speed of the wind, which varies from day to day. How high you fly is determined by wind direction aloft. Some days your pilot will need to fly much of the flight at higher altitudes to seek out a more favorable wind direction (or heading) to take you to an area of favorable landing sites. Other days, much of the flight will need to be flown at lower altitudes for the same reasons. However, a typical flight will spend much of the time at and below 1,000′ above the ground. We will often times be able to take you up to as high as 3,000′ or more to take in views of the surrounding mountains. We will likely also spend some time within feet of the desert floor to take in close up views of the Sonoran desert plant life and perhaps see some wildlife! Even though we fly the same locations almost daily, every flight is unique and that is why your pilot always seems to be so excited each and every time he hops in the basket for another ballooning adventure!
Where will we land?
Again, this question can only be answered once you are in the air! Since balloons travel with the wind and since the wind varies slightly from day to day, it is very unusual to land back where you launched from. However, any small desert clearing (next to a road of course!) will do. On occasion, you will find us sport flying in the city, it is not uncommon to land in small city parks and even cul-de-sacs on occasion! Roping The Wind HABC flies ‘sport balloons’. These are 2-3 passenger balloons that are highly maneuverable and with the skills demonstrated by your pilot, landing in tight areas is possible. Even if we are flying out in the desert, we are able to land in small clearings and on dirt roads due to the maneuverability of these balloons. Also, much like any automobile…balloons are sold from the factory ‘stock’ or with options. We have several options on our balloons that make them safer and even more maneuverable. This translates to an even safer flying experience for you as well as allowing your pilot to provide the most scenic and exciting flight available with the weather conditions that morning. Right about now, you are probably asking yourself how do we get back to our meeting spot!? We have a ground chase vehicle and ground crew chief that will continually track our flight from the ground and will be traveling the roads below to be there for us at our landing. Our 4 wheel drive chase vehicle is a well equipted crew cab truck built specifically to handle some of the roughest Arizona off road terrain. We also maintain radio contact with our ground crew during the flight.
What do I wear?
Is balloon flight for me?
What if the weather is not favorable on our scheduled flight day?
Now that you have answered all my questions, how do I schedule a flight?!
This question is easy! Just click on the ‘Book A Flight’ tab at the top of this page and you will be presented with your options for scheduling a balloon flight with Roping The Wind HABC! We look forward to introducing you to our very special brand of ballooning!