Frequently Asked Questions

Certain questions seem to come up fairly frequently, so we thought we would provide you with some answers.
Can you tell me a little about Capt. Jack?
In addition to being a FAA rated commercial hot air balloon pilot, I have been involved in aviation and aircraft maintenance for well over 30 years as a mechanic, inspector, and purchaser of aircraft parts, so aviation and the joy of flight have long been a part of my life. I have been involved in ballooning ever since I first had the opportunity to attend a balloon festival with a friend in Glen Falls, New York, way back in 1980 where I fell in love with hot air balloons, I am now fortunate enough to live in the beautiful Yadkin Valley of North Carolina, perfect balloon country (and also wine).
Is it difficult to get a balloon license?
You are subject to the same requirements as any other commercial aircraft pilot. The four part FAA certification process involves ground school and in-flight training. Potential pilots must provide a medical statement assuring that they are in good health, pass a written FAA exam, complete at least 40 hrs of in-flight training and ace an in-flight test with FAA officials. It can be a lot of work and expensive.
What should I wear?
There is no noticeable temperature difference at the altitudes we fly, so you should dress for an outdoor activity according to the season. Shorts and skirts may not be suitable for some of our landing spots. Hiking boots, sneakers, or a comfortable flat shoe are the preferred footwear. Waterproof shoes or boots are recommended for morning flights due to the heavy dew in the grass at out launch site.
Why do balloons only fly at dusk and dawn?
Well, dusk and dawn are really the only times the weather is conducive for balloon flying. At other times of the day, when the sun strikes the ground at a 45-degreee angle or greater, thermals are created building up tricky air currents that make the air unsafe for ballooning. Basically, the winds are calmest in the morning or evening so that's when we go.
Is ballooning dangerous?
Actually, it's a lot less dangerous than operating a car. But the pilot needs to take proper safe guards (wind, weather,etc.). As pilot I control when we fly, if the winds are too strong (more than 8 to 10 mph), we simply don't go up. After all, "I'd rather be on the ground wishing I were in the air, than in the air wishing I were on the ground".
What happens if the burner goes out?
Simple. If the burner goes out, you relight it! If that doesn't work, there is redundant system (Fire Two) that we can rely on to fly the balloon. If there was no burner the balloon will land at about the same rate as a parachute.
How high do we fly?
I usually fly up to where we have a good view of sights such as Pilot Mountain, Hanging Rock and the Winston Salem skyline about 1,000 to 2,000 feet. Then, I'll come back down and "contour fly", approximately 500 to 700 feet off the ground.
How do you steer the balloon?
Very little steering is involved. We use the wind to steer. The wind speed and direction varies at different altitudes, so as long as we know that, we can vary our altitude to catch the proper wind currents. But we really pretty much go where the wind goes. There's something nice about that, though. Hot air ballooning isn't about where you end up, it's about the journey you take to get there.
Is it cold up there?
Well, there's really no appreciable difference between the temperature on the ground and in the air at the altitudes we fly at. We travel with the wind, so you're not dealing with a wind chill factor, and don't forget you're standing next to a burner that puts out more than 27 million BTU's of energy per hour.
How long is the flight?
Our flights vary between 45 minutes and an hour and a half, depending on factors such as the amount of weight in the basket, the time of day, and the temperature. We actually have enough fuel to fly for about two and a half hours to give us a comfortable safety margin. The actual length of the flight is dictated by the number of safe landing sites. Either way, we do have to be back down on the ground before the winds start picking up.
Sounds great! How do I sign up?
Well, you can call me at (336) 699-3332, or you can e-mail me at for a reservation. Be sure to mention this web site, and you'll receive our special web discount rate. See you in the air!

Carolina Balloon AdVentures
Hot Air Balloon Rides
3028 Black Diamond Lane
East Bend, NC 27018

(336) 699-3332
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