RAINBOW RYDERS BLOG
Meet Your Crew
Learn more about the people behind the launching and landing of hot air balloons!
Have you ever wondered how a hot air balloon manages to get in the air? As magical as balloon flights seem, sending the aircraft up to the clouds doesn’t happen magically; it takes the hard work of an experienced crew! There are always a number of dedicated crew people required to assemble, inflate, chase, and pack up the balloon. The pilots tend to get most of the attention, and while they certainly deserve some of the glory, they couldn’t get anywhere without a crew!
To give you an idea of what we expect from our crew members, let’s take a look at their responsibilities during every flight. For us at Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Co., the most important of these responsibilities is ensuring that the experience of our passengers is as safe and enjoyable as possible.
The first part of every flight is meeting the passengers. All passengers are excited and have lots of questions to be answered. For many of our passengers, this is their first time in a balloon. The crew must be personable and knowledgeable. The crew then assists passengers into a chase vehicle and everyone drives to a launch site. All the equipment is transported in the van or on a trailer. Once on the field, the crew will help the passengers out and proceed to unload the balloon equipment.
The next job is to assemble the aircraft. The fabric must be attached to the basket and the burners and fuel lines must be installed and pre-flight inspected. Gasoline powered inflator fans are used to fill the balloon envelope with cold air as it lays on the ground. The crew holds the mouth of the balloon open and installs the deflation port at the top of the balloon. Once the balloon is packed full of cold air and the fabric is completely spread out, the propane burners will be lit and used to raise the balloon to the vertical.
After the balloon is standing upright, the crew will go through a preflight checklist and board passengers. Takeoff is next, and the crew then loads the equipment left on the field and begins the process of chasing the balloon. Chasing a balloon is much more difficult than it may seem. The chase vehicle has to follow a road whereas the balloon has no such limitation. You might think that something so large and colorful as a hot air balloon would also be easy to keep in sight; but the balloon can be there one minute and gone the next, often hidden by trees or far from the road that the van is traveling. Picking a route to take to intercept the balloon’s flight path requires strong map skills and a keen understanding of the how the winds are affecting the flight.
The crew will endeavor to be at the landing site before the balloon arrives to assist with the landing. After landing, the passengers will disembark and the process of deflating the balloon will begin. Inflation took about 25 minutes and so will deflating, packing, and loading the equipment. Then everyone loads into the vans to head back to the meeting spot. The crew will help unpack the vans and trailers and get everything set for the early morning flight the next day!
At Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company, we take great pride in every member of our team. Just as our pilots are skilled professionals held to a higher standard, so too are our crew members hard-working, experienced, and crucial to the safe operation of every flight. Come fly with us today and we guarantee that you’ll be impressed with their friendly efficiency! We can’t wait to share an adventure with you.