Weather conditions must be almost “ideal” in order for a Hot-Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there are any signs of a potential weather impact which would make a flight non-safe or possibly endanger the crew or festival attendees, then the launch will be CANCELED. Experienced Balloon Pilot, Ray Fournier, serves as our Balloon Meister. He is very trusted in the ballooning world and he makes the decision on if a safe flight can be executed or not. In addition, launches are also at the pilot’s discretion. Here is some weather information on ballooning flights:
Hot-Air Balloons are a type of aircraft that rely on basic scientific principles to fly. Warm air rises over cooler air, thus the balloon is able to rise when the burner is thrusted. To help balloons rise, we need thermals to be absent or at low activity. These thermals are least prominent in the early morning, just after sunrise, and early in the evening (the reason why launches are scheduled between 6:30 AM and 8 AM & between 3 PM and 8:30 PM during the event) at the pilot’s discretion with the Balloon Meister’s permission.
Prior to flight, a “Piball” (or Pilot Balloon) will be released. This is a helium filled balloon that lets the pilots know the general direction of the wind. This is the way the pilot’s balloon will drift. Wind directions do change based on height (especially if a front is in the area) and pilots must rely on (and know the direction) of the winds aloft. A balloon must also be able to land once in the air so the decision for “Go” or “No Go” for launch must take both the takeoff, flight, and a safe landing into consideration.
This means that weather conditions must be almost “ideal” in order for a Hot-Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there is any sign of a potentially non-safe flight, then the launch will be CANCELED. Here is some weather information on ballooning flights.
With this basic understanding of conditions for Balloon Launches, we hope you understand why some flights during the event are canceled. You will now be able to know if a balloon launch is likely to occur or not just by checking the local area forecast for White Pine, courtesy of WATE6-on-your-side-storm-team-forecast. Also, remember that Launch Forecasts and Updates for the festival will be available on our Facebook Page, LakesideoftheSmokiesBalloonFest, throughout the event.
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