The Chester County Balloon Festival pilots and their crews, want everyone at the festival to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Here is some important information and safety tips for spectators.
Hot Air Balloons are an aircraft, certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), annually inspected, and operations are regulated. Balloon pilots hold an FAA Lighter-than-Air certificate limited to airborne heater. The pilots must have a current certificate, completed biannual flight reviews, and annual safety courses.
Balloons fly at sunrise and a few hours before sunset because this is the most likely safe weather conditions for flights. Before launching, pilots will participate in a weather briefing where the FAA weather services and other weather instruments to determine conditions to provide data to make the fly or no fly decision. According to FAA mandate, hot air balloon operations are limited to specific weather conditions. Some of the larger parameters of safe flight conditions include calm winds of 7 mph or less, visibility of 2 miles or more, no active thunderstorms within 25 miles of the vicinity, winds aloft less than 25 miles at 3,000 feet, and cloud ceilings of more than 1000 feet.
Wind dictates when and in what direction balloons may fly and is the determining factor of whether balloons will fly from a festival location- we don't want to see an F-18 escort if we get too close to Biden’s house! Balloons fly when winds are calm or going calm, cloud cover at altitude is not an issue. Balloons need a light wind current to have a good flight, very strong winds make for hard and uncontrolled landings that can injure people, and damage property and balloon.
Storms are extremely hazardous for hot air balloons because of turbulence or violent wind currents are going in multiple directions. Even rain is a problem because it decreases visibility. Water soaked weight effects balloon performance, no lift, and it's not much fun to fly in wet weather.
Prevailing weather and winds may postpone or delay ballooning. It's the Festival balloonmeister 's decision to determine if the larger parameters meet FAA requirements for safe balloon flight operations, but it's each Pilot's responsibility to determine whether it is safe to fly their own unique aircraft, equipment, given passengers and crew. The pilot’s decision is final. We ask for your understanding if a flight must be cancelled due to weather. The pilots and committee will be just as disappointed as you and maybe even more because they know what you are missing!
- Per Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules you MAY NOT bring coolers onto airport property.
- Beware of vehicles moving around the field, especially emergency vehicles needing to get through the crowd.
- Do not bring your dogs or other pets.
- Do not leave your children unattended. Hold their hand when looking up at balloons in the sky. They can disappear quickly.
- Do not smoke on the Launch Field – it is a safety issue due to the propane
- Do not step on or over any ropes attached to the balloons – again safety issue
- Locate the Search & Rescue Tent – and let everyone know to meet there if you get separated. Make sure your children have some form of identification on them.
- Please do not touch any balloon equipment without asking the pilot or crew.
- Stay away from and clear of operating inflator fans near the balloons
- Take note of where you have parked your car. It's more difficult to find in the dark.
- Watch where you are walking for your safety and that of the balloons.
- Please pick up any debris, litter, etc. and dispose of in trash containers. No outside alcohol is allowed.
- Pack a flashlight to light the way back to your car after dark.