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!
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.
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.
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 an unforgettable Champagne balloon ride.
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