Why Do Hot Air Balloon Flights Happen At Dawn And Dusk?

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Whether you take the skies for a sunrise hot air balloon ride or go up, up and away shortly before sunset, it's an experience you will never forget.

A question we are often asked here at Virgin Balloon Flights is why we don’t offer hot air balloon rides in the middle of the day.

We offer a number of different voucher options, which all include only early morning or evening balloon flights.

The answer?

Simple science!

When Hot Air Balloons Can Fly

First of all, the basis of how a balloon works is actually pretty easy to understand with the theory being that hot air rises.

To make the balloon ascend, the pilot heats the air inside the nylon envelope (this is the actual balloon) which makes the air less dense and therefore lighter than the air that surrounds the balloon.

The amount of buoyancy or lift the balloon gets depends solely on the difference in temperature between the air inside the envelope and the atmospheric air surrounding the balloon.

So why can't this happen during the day?

When conditions are calm, hot air balloon pilots can finely control the altitude of the balloon by heating or venting the air inside.

But during the main part of the day the sun heats the ground and causes something called thermals.

These columns of rising warm air spiral skywards and displace the air above causing up and down drafts which can sometimes affect the pilot's level of control.

This process can also cause the mixing of calmer, slower winds closer to the curvature of the earth, with the generally faster paced winds higher in the sky.

This ‘mixing’ can lead to strong gusts and unpredictable conditions.

Sometimes We Can Fly In The Day

Conditions do vary during the year and sometimes cooler temperatures at the start or end of the season (in March or October) allow flights at different times.

These are what we call 'Day' flights.

But generally we fly AM and PM hot air balloon flights from our 100+ launch sites throughout England, Scotland and Wales as this is when conditions are at their best.

(If you're looking for a hot air balloon ride near me, by the way, pop your postcode or town into the Locations finder on our website and find out which of our launch sites is closest to you.)

So it’s not that we want to get you out of bed early or keep you up late for any reason other than to give you the balloon ride experience of a lifetime.

Join us on an airborne adventure with national Virgin Balloon Flight vouchers from as little as £169 per person.

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