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    The Basics - Tether Criteria

     Tether Site Requirements:

    The site should be clear of obstructions such as power lines, light poles, and fences.  The ideal site is a level grassy field.  The area is to be cleared of any material that could snag or tear the balloon.  A paved area is not a site option. All RE/MAX tethered balloon flight operations should be conducted in an area not less than 200 ft x 200ft (40,000 square feet) and clear of all overhead and downwind obstacles.  Depending on the size of the area and weather conditions, the balloon tethers at heights of between 10 and 45 feet.


     What is a Tether?

    Tethering a balloon means that the balloon is anchored.  To do this, ropes, or tether lines are run from the balloon itself to at least three fixed points.  Fixed points may be trees (not saplings), large fence posts that are strongly secured in the ground, heavy vehicles such as 4x4 trucks or cars with trailer hitches are also acceptable.


    What is Required For A Hot Air Balloon Tether?

    The balloon arrives in a trailer and is actually inflated on site.  There are certain requirements to make the tether possible:

    • An area of at least 200 ft x 200 ft (approximately the width of a football field)
    • The area must be grassy.  Short grass is preferable. The area cannot be paved or gravel.  The area must be clear from obstructions.
    • At least three fixed points or heavy vehicles
    • Winds must be 6mph or less.
    • It is always at the pilots’ discretion as to whether or not rides can be given.


    How long is A Tether?

    A tether may last as long as 2 hours but may be shorter depending on weather conditions.  A ride usually lasts one to two minutes. 

    Please note: All flights, whether free flight or tethers are at the discretion of the pilot.


    What Are Free Flight Details?

    Free flights can be done in up to 10 miles an hour so if a scheduled tether has borderline winds, you may want to revert to a free flight if the timing is right. The launch site is dependent on wind direction and conditions and is at the pilot’s discretion. It’s helpful to us if the event contact has knowledge of fields and/or parks in the surrounding area that could be used as possible launch sites. Free flights last approximately an hour and are normally done twice a day, weather permitting, just after sunrise and a few hours before sunset with times varying depending on the time of year. 



    A hot air balloon is greatly affected by weather. A clear sunny day does not necessarily make ideal conditions for a hot air balloon tether. The most important factor to consider is wind. In order to tether safely the winds must be 6mph or less. Unfortunately, winds usually become stronger as daytime heating takes place. This means the best conditions usually occur early morning and evening when the winds are calmest.



    To avoid adverse conditions, tethers are best completed in the early morning hours, before 10:00 am. Late morning success drops to about 50 percent, and by afternoon, winds prevent ballooning 85 per cent of the time.

    Winds of six miles an hour or more can cause serious problems for tethered balloon operations. The envelope will distort, forming a spinnaker-type sail and stressing the tether lines. When the lower portion of the envelope caves in, it is very difficult to use the burner to heat the inside of the balloon without burning the fabric and damaging the balloon.

    RE/MAX Hot Air Balloon tethered promotions that are booked to provide tethered rides will not be held when the surface winds are in excess of six miles and hour.



    Use of the RE/MAX Balloons in Night Glow promotions are for static display only. No tethered ride operations are provided during night glows.


    The Basics - Flying Criteria


    What Are Free Flight Details?

     Free flights can be done in winds up to ten miles an hour. The launch site is dependent on wind direction and conditions and is at the pilot’s discretion. Free flights last approximately an hour and are normally done twice a day, weather permitting, just after sunrise and a few hours before sunset with times varying depending on the time of year.


    What Is A Typical Flight Like?


    Each flight consists of four basic elements. These are:


    1. Pre-flight:

    This always precedes the actual flight. This is the time to plan the flight. It would include a detailed weather briefing from either the Flight Service Station or the weather office. As well, the authority to fly is obtained from the airport if one is nearby. Passengers are called to arrange a meeting point and ground crew is organized. A launch site is also selected based on all of the data collected including the availability of landing sites where a flight might end.

    2. Inflation and launch:

    Upon arriving at the launch site, the equipment is unloaded and rigged. Then an inflation fan is used to “cold inflate” the envelope. Once it is almost full, the burners are used to heat the air to a point where it will stand up. After a visual equipment inspection and briefing, the passengers are boarded and more heat is added until the command is given, “Hands Off”.

    3. Flight:

    This begins when the balloon leaves the ground and ends upon landing. During the flight, various flight levels will usually provide winds with small directional changes. A flight over a town or city would fly between 500 – 1,000 feet. If the flight is over the country, altitudes might be low enough to “tree top”, brush to top of corn or might even include some “touch and goes”.


    4. Landing:

    When it is time to land, this is accomplished by cruising at a low altitude until the appropriate site is spotted. This depends on many factors. They would include the proximity of power lines, size of the field, what type of field it is, crops, livestock and wind speed. After all of these considerations, a site is selected. By using the burners and the vent, a desirable rate of descent is established and the balloon lands. After the chase crew has obtained permission from the landowner or the appropriate authority, they enter the property. The equipment is then packed up and loaded, marking the end of the flight! On occasion, we sometimes will share a bottle of champagne with the landowner. This honours a 200 year tradition established to appease angry landowners when balloonists were mistaken for intruders.


    Who Has Final Authority Over All Balloon Flights?


    The balloon pilot, who is federally certified, has final authority over all decisions regarding balloon operations, including beginning, continuing or terminating events. Pilots also have the right to refuse any passenger for safety reasons, such as age, weight or physical condition. Safety is our first concern!

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