QWhen and where do you fly?
A Passenger flights take place between April and September each year. Balloon flights take place shortly after sunrise or around 3 hours before sunset, when the winds are generally at their calmest. Irish Balloon Flights fly from 3 different locations around Ireland. Check out our locations page for a venue that is nearest to you. We are often asked which location is the most picturesque? - all of our venues are chosen for the spectacular scenery, whether it be a lakeside venue or in an area of heritage or historic interest. Many people book flights from distant locations and make a weekend of it!
We also fly during the Winter months when we get suitable weather. These flights are carried out on a 'standby' basis and passengers can elect to go onto a standby list for their chosen venue(s). We do not publish a schedule for standby flights as flights are put on in the locations that are likely to get the best weather. Clear, frosty days are the best for ballooning.
QIs it safe?
A Hot Air Ballooning is one of the safest forms of aviation and we enjoy an impeccable safety record in over 30 years of flying, with no incidents or accidents in many thousands of flights. Balloon flights always take place in suitable, stable conditions and our pilots are all trained to the highest standard and each holds a Commercial Pilots Licence in order to carry out Public Transport flights. Our company holds an Air Operators Certificate (as do Aer Lingus and Ryanair!) and we are rigorously audited by the Civil Aviation Authority each year. Whilst it might be tempting to take a potentially cheaper paid flight with a 'private' balloonist (non-AOC holder) these flights are illegal and there would certainly be no insurance cover. Our balloons are treated exactly the same as any other licenced aircraft and are subject to annual inspections and maintenance.
QWhat should you wear?
A We recommend that you dress in layers. It is generally no colder in the air than it is on the ground on any given flight, so there is definitely no need to overdress on warm days. There are some items of clothing that are NOT permitted on a flight. These include shorts, skirts or cut-off trousers, open-toed sandals/pumps etc. We can sometimes land in a field that contains thistles or nettles so we ask passengers to wear sensible clothing in that environment. Shoes must be flat with no heels. Also, we strongly recommend waterproof footwear for morning flights, when there can be substantial dew on the grass.
QIs Hot Air Ballooning weather dependent?
A Yes, Hot Air Ballooning does require light wind conditions with no rain. If flights are postponed due to bad weather, the passengers simply reschedule back in for another convenient date. We are governed by the Civil Aviation Authority in terms of weather limitations and have to abide to these limits for safety reasons.
QHow do I know if my flight is going ahead?
A We operate a Weather-Check line (087 7437575) that passengers call to establish whether conditions are suitable for their flight. This line is updated by 1pm for evening flights and at 8pm the night before a morning flight.
QHow long does it take?
A We ask passengers to allow 3 to 3.5 hours for the whole experience. This includes the preparation and packing away time, plus travel time back to the meeting location following the flight (plus the time for the champagne toast once returned back to the meeting point!). The flight itself is around one hour in the air, give or take a few minutes either way.
QHow far are we likely to fly?
A The distance travelled is down to the wind speed on the day, and can be up to 30 kilometers on some days. On calm days, it might only be a few kilometers. The balloons will generally fly at different altitudes and will normally find different winds at different heights.
QWhere will we land?
A Good question! The simple answer is that nobody knows - it's a Magical Mystery Tour! Hot Air Balloons always fly with the winds and the exact landing location is not known until fairly late into the flight. Balloons do not land in crop fields or near animals / livestock. Our retrieve vehicle follows the balloon on the ground, in radio contact, and will gain permission from the landowner before recovering the balloon!
QWill I be able to help?
A Yes, definitely! We encourage our passengers to get involved with the balloon preparation and packing away, but this is completely voluntary!
QI am not very good with heights! Will I be OK?
A A flight in a Hot Air Balloon is completely different to being at the top of a building, tower or cliff etc. When taking off, it is as though the ground is slowly receding away and, in all our years of flying balloons, we have never had a single person who advised that they could not handle the experience of flying in the balloon. Our Chief Pilot feels uneasy climbing onto the roof of a bungalow, yet happily flies over the Alps by balloon at up to 20,000 feet!!
QAre there any age restrictions?
A The minimum age is 8 years of age. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, all passengers must be able to see over the edge of the basket and be able to clearly follow safety instructions. There is no upward age limit providing that each passenger has sufficient mobility to be able to get into and out of the basket. It is akin to crossing a field gate, where there are a couple of steps in the side of the basket to facilitate entry. Passengers must also be able to comfortably stand for a minimum period of 90 minutes. Unfortunately, we are unable to facilitate wheelchair users on our flights. We are also unable to fly anyone who is pregnant or suffering from certain medical conditions. If you are unsure as to whether a specific medical condition is allowed, please contact us via our Contact Us form.