What to Expect on a Hot Air Balloon Ride? FAQ's
WARNING! - BUYER BEWARE
There are companies that advertise they are local companies and fly in the Nashville Area, these companies, however, are National Broker companies. They do not own balloons or fly balloons themselves. They have very misleading information on their websites along with false testimonials and loads of photos that are not from the Middle Tennessee Area. They will tell you whatever you want to hear in order to get your money. One company is operating under the name Spot Reservations or Adventure Outdoors. Please keep the following criteria in mind when searching for and booking a hot air balloon ride in Tennessee.
1. You should ALWAYS be able to and ask to talk to the owner or the pilot, not a call center.
2. Always ask if the company you are talking to owns their own balloons, or if they only sell ride certificates. Do not be fooled by a company that has a Network of providers all over the United States.
3. Beware of 800 numbers!!! (Some are now using local numbers)
4. We are a local business and we have fun flying with our local competitors, these national companies however have destroyed the ballooning community nationwide due to poor customer service and misleading information. Skyrides even went bankrupt while still owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to balloonists and customers.
5. I personally know every pilot in Middle Tennessee and no one uses answering services, automated phones or have 800 numbers.
Click here to read more.
Click Here to read an announcement sent out by the Balloon Federation of America
1. What makes Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures different from other balloonists?
- Passenger safety is our number one priority. We have never had an accident resulting in any passenger injuries. We carefully plan each flight for the safety of our passengers and crew.
- We are locally owned, when you call us you talk to the pilot or the owner. No long waits or automated machines. We strive to provide fast, accurate service, Emails and voicemails are returned ASAP.
- Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures carries the best insurance a hot air balloon operation can carry from an A+ rated company.
- We limit our baskets to small parties. This provides a more personalized experience. You will not be in a basket with 15 other passengers. We usually carry 2-8 passengers per basket.
- We have cameras both on the ground and in the basket to provide passengers with remarkable photo packages.
- We are the only balloonists that fly from Leipers Fork, and continually strive to provide flights over the country side. This provides you with breath taking views of un-touched wilderness, wildlife, and landscapes that cannot be matched by any other. We can also come to you.
Questions Related to Booking/Re-Scheduling a Flight:
1. How do I book a flight?
First visit the "Pricing
" link to review our flight options. Next click the "BOOK NOW
" link on the top of any page to schedule a hot air balloon ride over the middle Tennessee area. A scheduling page will load and you can select the flight adventure option that you would like. A calendar will pop up where you can select the date and either AM or PM time. (AM flight meet 30 min. before sunrise, PM flights meet 2 and 1/2 hours before sunset) After you select both a date and time you will be asked to enter your First Name, Last Name, Phone Number and Email address. (If you are using a gift voucher click on the "Gift Voucher" link and click "Redeem"). Click "Continue". Enter the total combined passenger weight, whether you want Champagne or Non-Alcoholic cider. Enter your payment information and click "Pay Now". Once payment is complete you will receive an email from us confirming payment and scheduled flight details (if you do not receive this email please check your spam folder).
2. What happens once I schedule my Hot Air Adventure?
You will receive a E-mail within 24 hours confirming the scheduled date of your flight. (If you do not recieve this email please check your spam folder) Our pilot will contact you by 8PM the night before sunrise flights and between 12 and 1 PM for sunset flights to confirm weather conditions and coordinate a meeting place and launch site selection according to your needs and wind directions. If you do not hear from us it is YOUR responsibility to contact us by calling 615-584-6236.
3. What happens if I need to re-schedule my flight?
When you book a hot air balloon ride we reserve those spots for you and your group. We turn down other passengers based on your booking. If you need to change your flight we need at least 4 days notice prior to your scheduled flight date to allow us to re-book passengers to fill the spot reserved for you. We understand that sometimes situations arise and we will work with you as much as possible.
4. What happens if I forget about my flight or do not show up for my flight?
If you forget about your hot air balloon ride or do not show up for your hot air balloon ride you will be held responsible for paying the BALANCE of your scheduled flight in FULL.
5. Is there a weight limit?
Yes, especially on the Shared Hot Air Adventure. When we plan your flight weight is a big issue. We plan our flights based on an average of 200 lbs. per passenger. If your group is over this average weight we suggest booking a Private, Dawn Patrol, or Extreme adventure. This will allow you to be in your Private Hot Air Balloon with a passenger weight limit of 1,600 lbs not including the pilot.
Ex. 1 - 2 passengers, One is 250lbs and the other is 100lbs total of 350lbs. This is perfectly acceptable and the average is below 200lbs. per passenger.
Ex. 2 - 2 passengers, One is 250lbs and the other is 220lbs total of 470lbs. This exceeds the 200lbs. per passengers average and would require either a Private Adventure or a surcharge.
6. Why do you need my weight?
Weight is a major factor in flying a hot air balloon. Our "Lift Capacity" is based on a number of factors. Temperature, humidity, density altitude, etc. We carefully plan each flight based on the total weight of the passengers. Please be as accurate as possible when entering your group weight. Entering a false weight or a weight vastly (50 lbs or more) different than your actual group weight can result in not being able to fly and you will be responsible for the balance of the flight.
7. Is there an age limit? / Can small children fly?
Yes, We recommend children be at least 5 years of age to ride in the hot air balloons. They need to be able to understand instruction and you should not have to hold them during flight/landing. As well we find that younger kids are not able to see over the side of the basket. If you have younger kids and really want them to fly, take them out to be around the balloons, close to the burners and in the basket first to make sure they like it before you book a flight.
8. My flight was weathered out, now what?
If your flight gets cancelled due to weather you will need to re-schedule. Please click on the "Book Now" link at the top of any page and VIEW the calendar for availability. Once you see an available date you would like to re-schedule to please call, text, or e-mail us with that date and time and we will re-schedule the flight for you. You do NOT need to pay an additional booking fee.
9. Will I have to sign a waiver?
Yes, you are required to sign a liability waiver and a passenger briefing to fly with Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures, LLC. Please CLICK HERE
to view the waiver and the passenger briefing.
10. Is my booking fee Refundable?
When you book your flight we require a Non-Refundable booking fee. That means we will not refund your booking fee. We will make sure you get to fly. If you are weathered out you can re-schedule your flight to any further date we have available. Our terms of agreement appear before booking your flight as well as in your confirmation email. We understrand you might have certain circumstances or you might only be in town for one day. In these situations exceptions will be made only when you contact Logan BEFORE booking your flight. Please send an email with your circumstances so we have a record of it. Without this email record we will NOT refund your booking fee.
1. How do I purchase a gift voucher?
to be taken to the Hot Air Balloon Ride Gift Certificate page. Click on "Purchase Voucher". You can then select the vouchers you want to purchase. Then click "Pay Now and Complete Order". Enter your payment information and submit the payment.
2. I purchased a gift voucher, what now?
Hot Air Balloon Gift Certificates are custom made to each order. You should receive an email containing your gift voucher within 15 minutes. Sometimes it can take longer. If you do not receive your gift voucher and you purchased it more than 1 hour ago please call 615-584-6236 and talk to Logan.
3. I received a gift voucher, how can I book my flight?
Printed on your gift voucher is a "Voucher Code". If this is a 6 digit code you can click the "Gift Voucher" link at the top of any screen and then click "Redeem Voucher" enter your code and book your flight. If your voucher was purchased or received before April 2013 and your "Authentication Code" is 4 or 8 digits you will need to click "Book Now" at the top of any page and then you will click "Promotion Code" on the right of the screen, from here you can enter the code and proceed to book your flights. You will then receive an email confirming your Adventure has been scheduled!! See you soon.
4. Are gift vouchers redeemable for cash?
No, gift vouchers are valid for the purchased hot air balloon ride printed on the voucher. They are not redeemable for cash and they are non-refundable. If your gift voucher expires we will work with you directly.
5. How long are gift vouchers valid?
Gift Vouchers are printed with a 2 year expiration date from the date of purchase. We advise passengers to use their vouchers within this time period. We work with all of our passengers to accommodate any special circumstances and will usually accept expired gift vouchers however we reserve the right to evaluate this on a case by case basis.
1. What types of payment do you accept?
We accept cash, local checks, as well as all major credit cards for payment of the deposit as well as the balance of your Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventure (mobile credit card processing). Of course we prefer cash but we can accommodate any needs.
2. Does my booking fee apply towards my flight?
Yes when you schedule your hot air balloon ride and pay a booking fee to reserve your flight, that booking fee is built in to the total cost of your flight. The balance due will cover the actual flight.
3. I am trying to book a flight but it is only charging me $50 per person?
This is correct. Every flight only requires a $50 (per person/shared flight) booking fee. $200 (Per Flight/Private flight) The booking fee covers all costs we have prior to taking you on your flight. This includes opportunity costs, credit card fees, waiver fees, accounting fees, ect. This booking fee is built in to the cost of your flight. The balance due on the day of your flight will cover the actual flight. Balance = Total flight cost - booking fee.
Location / Directions:
1. Where do you launch from?
Whether it would be the Nashville skyline or the rolling hills of Franklin and Brentwood, TN. We fly all over the Middle Tennessee area. We regularly use launch sites located in Franklin, Leiper's Fork, Brentwood, Spring Hill, Nashville, Arrington, as well as many more. We can also make arrangements to come to you.
2. Where do we meet you?
We typically meet at the TA Travel Center at 4400 Peytonsville Road, Franklin, TN 37064 just off of Exit #61 on I-65 however our meeting site may vary depending the wind direction that day. Any changes in meeting location will be relayed to you by the pilot when we do flight check-in.
3. Where are you located?
We are located in Franklin about 20 miles south of Nashville Tennessee. We do not have a store front and are a home based business. Please do not come to our house. We are available for services throughout all of Middle Tennessee and surrounding areas. Even though we are based in Franklin we typically meet passengers on I-65 off of exit #61
4. How far are you from Nashville?
We meet about 18 miles south of Nashville in Franklin Tennessee.
5. How do we get to the meeting location from Nashville?
Take interstate 65 south towards Alabama. Go about 16-18 miles and take exit #61 for Peytonsville Rd. you will turn left and drive over the interstate. We meet at the TA Travel Center at 4400 Peytonsville Road, Franklin, TN. Our exact meeting location may vary and will be explained to you by the pilot during the check in call.
How to Prepare for a Hot Air Balloon Ride? / What to Expect:
1. How tall is the side of the basket?
The basket is about 36-42" high on the sides. Kids should be at least this tall to be able to see out as we fly.
2. When do you fly?
Our main flying season is April to November in Middle Tennessee. Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, each offering their own differences and providing unique flights for each outing. We fly two times per day one at sunrise and one at sunset. This provides optimum conditions and predictable wind patterns which allow safe flights to be conducted. Flight availability in winter is limited.
3. When is the best time to fly?
I personally love all seasons of the year each for their own reason. I prefer the cool brisk Tennessee morning flights. We launch as the world awakens below us and often experience steam rising from the lakes and rivers around us, and fog in the valleys between the hills.
4. What times do you fly each day?
We fly two times per day. Once at sunrise and once at sunset. Sunrise flights meet 30 minutes before sunrise on your scheduled flight date. Sunset flights meet 2 and 1/2 hours before sunset on your scheduled flight date. The exact times will be relayed to you by our pilot during the check-in phone call. Click here
to view sunrise/sunset times in Tennessee.
5. What should I bring?
Please keep possessions to a minimum, there is limited space in the basket and it is best to keep the basket from being cluttered. It is strongly advised to bring a camera as there will be many opportunities for taking photos of the landscape and wildlife.
6. How long does the whole process take?
Hot Air Balloon Rides last between 60-90 minutes, flight times are not guaranteed, if the pilot deems necessary due to safety he can land at anytime, you should allow an additional 1 and 1/2 hours for meeting, launching, landing, packing up, and return to your vehicle. We advise to allow 3 hours from meeting to being back to your vehicles.
7. How do we get back to our car?
We will meet at a specified location, you will then join us in our chase vehicle to be taken to the launch site. We will inflate the hot air balloon and take off for your flight. While we fly the chase vehicle follows us on the ground and is in constant radio contact. Once we land the chase vehicle will be at the landing site ready to return you to your vehicle.
8. What should I wear?
Despite what most people think it is actually warmer in the hot air balloon than on the surface, so dress according to weather, we are moving with the winds so you will feel minimal wind. Wear tennis shoes or light hiking boots. High heels, flip flops, and open toe shoes are discouraged, some walking might be required upon landing depending on the landing site. If you are comfortable on the surface you will be warm in the balloon. Personally I fly in a T-shirt and long pants even when it is 40 degrees outside.
9. How does a hot air balloon work?
The envelope (top fabric portion) of the hot air balloon is heated with hot air from the burner or heating device, the air inside the envelope expands in comparison to the ambient air outside the envelope. The air wants to rise to equalize its pressure with the ambient air. Once the air inside the envelope is heated enough to overcome the weight of the balloon, basket, and passengers, the balloon starts to slowly and gently rise. When the air inside the envelope cools the balloon starts to descend. With these principles we can use the burner or heating device to control our rate of ascent, descent, or reach equalibrium to fly level. Upon landing the hot air is released from the envelope allowing it to deflate.
10. How do you steer?
Hot air balloons are unique in the fact that you move with the winds, we cannot control horizontal direction however we have precise control over vertical direction, moving up and down we can catch varying wind currents which enable us to steer. We plan your flight based on the forecasted winds on the surface and aloft.
11. How high can we go?
Depending on the flight options you choose, for the extreme adventure we can fly up to 10,000 feet above sea level. Typical flights range anywhere from tree top level all the way up to and sometimes above 2,000 feet.
12. I usually get motion sickness, will I be ok in a hot air balloon?
We typically find that people who get motion sickness are not bothered by the hot air balloon. The balloon is very calm and stable. If you are highly susceptible to motion sickness we recommend you take a motion sickness medicine just to be safe. However we find it is usually not necessary.
13. I am scared of heights, will I be ok in a hot air balloon?
From our experience this is not an issue in a hot air balloon. Hot air balloons are unique and feel very safe and stable when riding in the basket. We can fly just above the tree tops or climb up higher than any hills. Time and time again we get passengers who tell us about their fear of heights and end up loving the hot air balloon ride.
14. Can I bring alcohol on the balloon ride?
No! The FAA prohibits passengers bringing alcohol on board the aircraft. However we do provide a champagne toast once we land. If you have a special drink you would like other than champagne you are welcome to bring it along and leave it in the cooler of the chase vehicle which will be waiting once we land.
15. How do I enter into the basket?
You must be able to climb over the side of the basket. We will provide a step stool and we will also have crew available to assist you. There is a step in the side of the basket in which you step into and while holding the upright poles of the basket you will climb into the basket.
Click on the photo for a larger image.
16. What is the oldest and youngest passengers that have flown in your balloon?
Our oldest passenger was 96 years old. We have had multiple passengers in their 70's and 80's. Our youngest paid passenger was 3 years old however we have had infants in the balloon during tether events.
17. How long do we actually fly?
We strive to keep most flights between 60-90 minutes. However hot air ballooning relies on winds which can be unpredictable. If the pilot deems necessary due to weather or flight path issues he/she might land before this time window.
18. Are we supposed to tip the pilot and/or crew?
Tipping is not required. However like many service based operations tipping is a show of gratitude for an exceptional experience. Our pilots and crew are paid, although if you feel they did an exceptional job tipping is always welcome. A tip can be any amount you feel was earned by your pilot or crew. When we receive tips to any pilot or crew we combine the money and split the tips between everyone working on that flight.
19. Do the sunset rides last until/after sunset?
Legally we must be on the ground at the minute of sunset. We usually plan on landing about 15 minutes before actual sunset to allow room for adjustments. The bright colorful sunset you see actually occurs between 15-30 minutes after sunset once the sun has gone below the horizon. We recommend picking a sunrise or dawn patrol adventure if this is what you are interested in. For sunrise we can take off the minute of sunrise. For Dawn Patrol Aventures we use positioning lights on the balloon and launch the balloon 45-30 mintutes before sunrise and watch the entire sunrise and then we are able to land in full daylight. You can contact us with your personal needs and we can recommend the best option for you.
1. If it is raining can we still fly?
Hot air ballooning relies heavily on weather. Sometimes we can fly in a very light drizzle (virga). However if there are thunderstorms or strong heavy rains in the local vicinity we will not be able to fly.
2. How much wind is too much?
There is no magic number as to too much wind to safely fly. When we plan your flights we look at a number of different atmospheric conditions that will be present in our flying area. Pressure, Frontal lines, rain fall, convective activity, wind speeds on the surface and aloft, plus more; each plays a major role in safely conducting flights. Our pilots are trained in micro climates and are very familiar with weather/wind patterns in Middle Tennessee. The pilot always makes the final decision whether to fly or not.
3. Can it be too hot to fly a hot air balloon?
Yes it can. Hot air balloons work by heating the inside air to a greater temperature than the outside(ambient) air. The hotter it is outside the smaller this temperature differential is resulting in less lift. On a 95 degree day the amount of weight we can lift is dramatically different than a 65 degree day. We try our best to plan our flights accordingly. Sometimes a heat streak stalls over Middle Tennessee and we are forced to reduce our flight load or cancel flights. If we can safely fly we will however passenger safety is our #1 priority, and sometimes we have to re-schedule to stay safe.
4. Can it be too cold to fly a hot air balloon?
Hot air balloons actually respond and fly better in cold temperatures. This is true because we fly by heating the inside of the balloon to a greater temperature than the outside(ambient) air. When it is 30 degrees outside this is much easier to do and does not require as much heat. When it is 90 degrees outside we have to put much more heat inside to create the same amount of lift.
5. Who decides if we have to re-schedule due to weather?
Our pilots make the final decision as to if it safe or not to fly. We do not pressure our pilots to fly. Remember our pilots have lived and flown in Middle Tennessee for years and are very familiar with local weather and wind patterns. If the decision is made to cancel a flight we support our pilots decision.
1. Who regulates the sport of Hot Air Ballooning?
The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) regulates all balloon operations in the United States and within 20 miles of our coast. Our pilots are certified by the FAA as commercial hot air balloon pilots and are also instructors. They are required to perform regular flight proficiency checks. The aircraft (Hot Air Balloon) we fly are regularly inspected every 100 flight hours and given Airworthiness Certificates required by the FAA.
2. Do your pilots have to have a license?
Yes, hot air ballooning is regulated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) our pilots have to log ground training, take a 60 and a 100 question FAA regulated test and pass 2 practical flight tests with FAA examiners on board. Only after passing all tests are they awarded a license certificate for commercial hot air balloon operations. Our pilots are also licensed instructors with the ability to teach new pilots how to fly. Our pilots are actively involved in WINGS pilot proficiency program and regularly attend safety seminars covering safe hot air balloon operations.
3. Is Middle Tennessee Hot Air Adventures insured?
Yes, we carry the best insurance available to hot air balloon pilots in the United States.
1. What do I need to know about tethers?
Tethers are an operation where we tie the balloon down to 3 points with 100' ropes and give rides to multiple people at events, parties, grand openings, etc...
We can only provide tether rides within two hours of sunrise OR starting 1 and 1/2 hour before sunset. We can operate after sunset as well. WE CANNOT TETHER IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY, winds are too unpredictable and we often have gusts and thermal activity.
We need a 200' x 200' area clear of ANY obstructions, no power lines, light poles or trees. We prefer grass areas but can perform on pavement if required. WE MUST BE ABLE TO DRIVE 3 VEHICLES ON THE GRASS!!
You must provide 2 additional vehicles or tractors or any comparable weight object to tie the balloon to. These vehicles must have a trailer hitch or closed tow hooks. We will provide the 3rd vehicle.
To schedule a tether please talk to Logan first, we will then write a contract and email it over to be signed.