Balloons Over Bend FAQ

Can I ride in a balloon during the Balloons Over Bend festival?

Balloon rides at Balloons Over Bend are available in limited quantity. For more information and availability, contact us at

How does a balloon work?

Hot air balloons fly because the air inside of the envelope is hotter than the outside air. By using propane-fueled burners, the air is heated, and the balloon ascends. To descend, the air inside the balloon must be cooled by either letting the envelope cool on its own or by opening the vent at the top of the envelope to let some of the hot air out. Throughout a flight, the pilot will use a combination of heating and cooling the balloon to ascend and descend. And when it is time to land, the top of the envelope is opened completely to let all of the air out and deflate the balloon.

When do balloons fly?

Since balloon flights require specific weather conditions, flights generally occur at sunrise or just before sunset when the winds are the lightest. If wind speed at the time of launch is more than 7 miles an hour, it is too dangerous to fly. Other weather conditions such as rain, low clouds and certain wind direction, will keep the balloons on the ground for safety reasons.

How many people can ride in a balloon at once?

Balloons can carry as few as one person (just the pilot) or as many as 12 passengers. Balloon capacity depends on the size of the envelope and on weather conditions, specifically the outside air temperature. The balloons that typically participate in our festival can hold between 2 and 3 passengers.

How long is a balloon ride?

Balloon flights can range anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour depending on wind and weather conditions and direction of flight. The whole ballooning experience, however, generally takes between 2 and 3 hours. This includes the set up, flight, pack up, and return trip to the festival.

How high, how fast, and how far will we fly?

Hot air balloons usually cruise at an altitude of 1,000 feet above ground. Many balloon flights occur between 100 and 2,000 feet above the ground, but balloons can fly at treetop level or go much higher. Once the balloon reaches 12,500 feet, oxygen is required. Since balloons travel with the wind, the balloon will only go as fast as the wind is blowing, generally not much faster than 8 – 10 mph. The distance the balloon will travel also depends on the speed of the wind as well as the duration of the flight.
For example, an hour-long flight with winds averaging 5 mph will travel a distance of about 5 miles.

Where will I land?

Balloons travel with the wind and cannot be steered. Pilots may, however, change directions by ascending or descending to pick up varying wind directions at different altitudes. Therefore, you will land wherever the wind takes you! Balloons generally land in large open areas such as front and back yards, parking lots, fields, and parks.

How do I get back to the festival?

Each balloon has a ground crew that follows the path of the balloon on the ground in the chase vehicle and is in contact with the balloon via radio. The ground crew will meet the balloon at the landing spot and help to pack up the balloon. Once the balloon is all packed up, you will get a ride back to the festival grounds in the chase vehicle.

Are there any passenger restrictions?

Almost anyone can take a balloon ride, however there are some restrictions for safety reasons. Passengers should be tall enough to see over the edge of the basket (about 42 inches high), be able to stand for at least an hour, have no medical issues that may affect their ability to participate in light physical activity, and should not be too far along in pregnancy. All passengers should be sure to inform their pilot of any and all potential medical or physical problems prior to flight.

What should I wear?

You should dress as you would for any outdoor activity: loose comfortable clothing with sturdy footwear. Please no heeled shoes or sandals. A light jacket or sweatshirt might be worth bringing for cooler mornings and evenings. Cotton is recommended. Please do not wear nylon. The temperature up in the balloon will be about the same as it is on the ground. There is a slight, 3.5 °F drop in temperature per 1000 feet above sea level, however since most flights take place at an average of 1000 feet, the difference is barely noticeable.

What is a tethered balloon ride and how can I take one?

Tethered rides do not occur at the Balloons Over Bend event but for future reference allows you to get a small taste of ballooning without leaving the festival grounds. These balloons are tied to the ground with tether ropes about 100 feet in length. When you get into the basket, the balloon goes up until the ropes are fully extended and then returns to the ground. The ride lasts about 5 minutes and can take place any time during the day as long as the winds are calm.

How much does it cost to buy a balloon?

A brand new regular shaped (sport) balloon system ranges anywhere from $30,000 and up. A special shaped balloon can cost upwards of $200,000! Used balloons usually go for less, depending on their age and the number of hours they have been flown.

What are the components of a hot air balloon?

The two main components of a balloon system are of the envelope, or brightly colored inflatable sphere, and the gondola, or basket. The envelope is usually made of rip-stop nylon fabric (the same fabric as a parachute) and can range anywhere from 60 to 80 feet high (and even taller on some special shaped balloons!). The diameter of balloons range from 30 to 40 feet. The gondola is made of wicker and is framed by aluminum or stainless steel. It carries the propane gas tanks, an instrument panel, as well as the pilot and passengers. The instrument panel contains an altimeter, which measures altitude; a pyrometer, which measures the heat at the top of the envelope; and a variometer, which measures rate of ascent and descent.

Balloon Glossery

  • Aeronaut – A pilot or navigator of a balloon
  • Balloon – See definition of an envelope
  • Balloon System – A balloon system includes the envelope, basket and burner for a self contained flying vehicle.
  • Basket – Pilot and passenger compartment attached to a hot air balloon and usually made of wicker, a flexible and lightweight material that provides good shock absorption.
  • Burner – A system of gas valves and jets fed from a fuel tank (usually propane) the air within the envelope, causing the balloon to rise.
  • Chase Crew – One or more people who follow a launched balloon and attempt to be wherever the balloon lands. The crew’s responsibilities include helping the pilot to inflate and deflate the balloon.
  • Envelope – The air bag of a hot air balloon system that is constructed of nylon or polyester fabric coated with polyurethane, which makes less porous and protects it from the sun rays. A framework of nylon webbing is sewn into the fabric, which strengthens the envelope.
  • Hot Air Balloon – A balloon that uses heated air contained within an envelope. Heated air is less dense than the cooler air surrounding it that allows the balloon to rise.
  • Lines – Ropes used to move, hold or position a boat or balloon.
  • Vector – A wind current moving in a specific direction. Balloon pilots look for currents to help carry them toward an objective or target.