Frequently Asked Questions
- Ballooning History
- Hot air ballooning began in 1783 in France. Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier
built the first hot air balloon. Their belief was that the smoke generated
the lift needed to fly, not the heat, so they built the smokiest, most
rancid fires they could. These fires cause the balloon to belch smoke the
entire flight, even after landing. On the flight a bottle of champagne
was carried to drink on the flight. Instead, they used the champagne to
appease the farmers who wanted to destroy the fire breathing dragon that
was invading their farms. There are times today when a bottle of bubbly
still helps out.
In 1960, Ed Yost made the first flight in a modern hot air balloon. The balloon was commissioned by the US Navy and built by Raven Industries. This was the birth of modern hot air ballooning.
- What Is a hot air balloon?
- A balloon is made of 3 primary components:
Envelope - The envelope is the fabric portion of the balloon. they range in size from 54,000 cubic feet to well over 200,000 cubic feet.
Basket (gondola) - Made of wicker or rattan, the basket is what you ride in. They range in sizes to carry just a pilot to well over 12 passengers plus pilot. They also act as anchor points for the cables, blocks, burners, tubes and other components that make up the rest of the system.
Burner - The burner assembly takes liquid propane from the tanks, pre-heats it, atomizes it, and then sprays it over a pilot light. As it passes over the pilot light, it ignites. The typical burner today generates about 12 million BTU's of heat per hour.
- Preparing For Flight
- To fly the balloon, you must start by preparing for flight in general, and by assembling the balloon. To prepare for flight overall, you must ensure that you have a good weather briefing, have crew, have all the radios, fuel, equipment, and time necessary to safely conduct the flight, and of course, someone to go fly with.
To assemble the balloon, the burner is attached to the basket and a burner test is conducted to ensure there are no leaks.
The assembled bottom end is laid over on its side. Once on its side, the envelope is attached and streamered out.
Now the fun begins. An inflator fan is started and the balloon is filled with cold air. Once full, the pilot will light the burner and heat the air. As the air is heated, the balloon will stand up, and the balloon is now inflated and ready to fly.
The pilot will ask that the passengers enter the balloon add additional heat, and your off on the adventure of a lifetime.
- When do you fly
- Balloons Over The Rainbow flies year round, weather permitting. We launch at sunrise and about 2 1/2 hours before sunset. It is a fact however that most of our flights occur between April and October due to the infamous St. Louis weather. We all know how tough it can be to predict and we always error on the side of caution.
- What time and where do we meet?
- We will meet no later then 1 hour before launch time. Please be on time! Late arrivals or no shows will not be refunded or rescheduled. Be sure to ask what time to meet when you call in to confirm your flight. You must call the evening before a morning flight, or by noon for an afternoon flight. We meet at our Gift Store located at 1640 Gravois Road, High Ridge, MO 63049.
- How long is the balloon ride?
- Our rides typically last about an hour, although they do range in length from 45 minutes to an hour and a half. There is an old saying in ballooning; never pass up a good landing site because it might be your last. Duration will depend on weather, location, and available landing sites. Remember, all flight operations are always at the discretion of the pilot in command.
- What is included in the fee?
- Transportation to and from the launch site from the meeting site.
A balloon excursion lasting about an hour.
Post flight sparkling juice ceremony.
An etched Champaign Flute with our balloons on one side, and the Balloonists Prayer on the back.
A Flight Certificate commemorating your flight
- What is the cost, how do I pay, and do I need reservations?
- Please see our online
store for current pricing if you wish to purchase flight certificates
as gifts or to take advantage of a special discount that may be available
on them from time to time. If you are not presenting the flights to someone
as a gift, there is no need to purchase flight certificates ahead of
time. Simply call us to make a reservation to fly. We will collect the
flight fees at check-in on flight day.
Reservations are required for anyone flying in order to hold your space in the basket on a given day. Don't worry if we can't fly that day, we will reschedule you to fly another day if your preferred day isn't available, or if the weather doesn't cooperate.
Call us at 314-402-8010
to reserve your date and time whether
you have purchased a flight certificate or not.
- What is a flight certificate, a reservation, and what do I do with it?
- A flight certificate is just that. A certificate you can use yourself, or give to someone else for a ride. Once a flight certificate is purchased, you can make a reservation for a flight. Simply call us to schedule your flight. We will mail you a certificate and associated paperwork to the shipping address provided once we receive notification of the order, but you can still call us even prior to receiving the physical certificate. If you are giving the certificate to someone else, please allow enough time for the paperwork to reach you in the mail, otherwise you can call to order so we can find a way to expedite getting you the certificate.
Remember, once you purchase a flight certificate for yourself, or have given them to someone else, make sure whoever is going to go on the ride calls us to make a reservation. If we get weathered out, or that day isn't available, we will keep working with you to schedule your flight until we succeed. Remember, Balloons aren't like airplanes. We can't fly in any kind of bad weather, so rescheduling does occur quite often. We will get you flown just as quick as we can safely do.
Also remember that flight certificates are fully transferable. If you give them to someone and they won't go, give them to someone that will use them and have them call us. We want to fly, so give them to someone that will use them.