Ballooning Melbourne is a treat of a lifetime. Melbourne Australia is the largest city in the world where passenger hot air balloons are able to fly over the city and suburbs.
The early morning weather tends to be calm and stable, and there are many parks and gardens for hot air balloons to land safely.
There are various operators offering Melbourne ballooning flights, each of them with great experience and safety records. Most of them are champagne balloon flights that culminate in a 5 star gourmet breakfast in a luxury hotel.
Be prepared to get up early to meet half an hour before sunrise. After a briefing with the pilot you will be driven to the launch site, where you can get involved in inflating the balloon into a 90-foot giant.
Then it is time to climb into the wicker basket with around 9 other people. The burners roar to fill the balloon with hot air, and it soon is up and away. You are floating silently watching the city below come to life. A beautiful site!
Flying time is about one hour. Landing in one of Melbourne's many parks can at times be bumpy, but is safe. The ground crew will have followed the balloon. They help pack up and take you to your breakfast venue. The whole experience takes around 4+ hours.
Another option is to go ballooning in the Yarra Valley - a picturesque wine growing region about 1 hour northeast of Melbourne. You can either start your balloon flight there, combine it with a Yarra Valley Wine tour, or be picked up from a Melbourne Hotel.
On a Yarra Valley hot air balloon flight, you will glide over the rolling corridors of grape vines and the Yarra River, with breathtaking views of mountains surrounding the valley - very ambient!
The weather on the day has the last say on whether it is safe to fly. Too much or not enough wind, turbulence, rain, thermal activity or poor visibility will cause flight cancellation, requiring you to reschedule. You will usually find out the night before, sometimes on the day.
While the balloon is carried along and has no steering mechanism, the pilot nevertheless plans its route after studying the wind and weather patterns of the day, and choosing an appropriate launch site.
After takeoff your pilot can change the course of the balloon by using the different wind currents at different heights. By making the balloon climb and descend into the various air layers, they can steer the balloon to its destination.
You might expect it to be freezing, but it is actually not any colder in the air during a balloon flight than on the ground, as the burners radiate quite a bit of heat. You dont feel any air movement and there is no wind chill, as you are gliding with the wind.
Most balloons fly between 500 - 2500 feet (170 800m) over the city, but we have seen them as low as the height of a few houses. Sometimes they go higher for an amazing view.
Balloon flights are monitored by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority and need to comply with their laws and regulations. Pilots are qualified and undergo regular training and reviews.
All of the balloon operators boast with a great safety record and experience. While it is understandable that you may feel nervous taking off in a balloon, ballooning Melbourne is safe and professionally operated. For many, it is the thrill of a lifetime.
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