Once the pilot and crew have an idea of where they’ll be flying, the next task is to prepare the balloon for flight, this involves where on the launch site to place the basket, which way to lay out the balloon. By around this time the passengers are arriving, and it’s about time to start inflating the balloon, this is done at first by two large fans which help to open up the balloon, which prepares it for the hot air.
The pilot will start to brief the passengers, while the crew members continue to prepare the balloon, with one crew member holding what is known as the crown line, which is a long rope that is attached to the top of the balloon, and is pulled to taut so that the balloon rises as straight as possible, without being swayed by the wind.The final step in preparation before the balloon is off the ground, is to fill the balloon with hot air, this is done by the pilot using the gas burners, this will cause the balloon to inflate upright, while one member of the crew will sit in the recovery vehicle which is attached to the basket while the balloon is slightly off the floor. Then finally the ropes are released and the balloon is away into the sky. Once the balloon is off the ground, the crew member’s job is to track and recover the balloon from where it lands, this is done by a mixture of keeping the balloon in eyesight, and tracking through use of maps. The crew will continue to follow the balloon, while remaining in contact with the pilot via radio. Once the pilot has decided where to land, the crew finds the location on the ground and makes contact with the land owner. When access has been granted by the land owner, the crew will enter the landing site with the pilot and passengers touching down at any moment. After their flight the passengers will aid the pilot and crew in taking the balloon down by removing the air and packing it away. Finally it is time for a champagne toast and certificate presentation and then the passengers are returned to the launch site via minibus. The pilot and the crew then head off, quite possibly to bed as they might be doing it all over again in a few hours!