Hot Air Ballooning – All of your Frequently Asked Questions Answered

The best views of Victoria and Melbourne are from the skies, where you can take the slow, relaxed approach to soak up the landscapes from a hot air balloon.

For those who haven't had the chance to delve into this experience, there are often many questions about what should be expected. So to help you get familiar with all the bits and pieces involved, we’re answering your most common questions.

How should I dress for a hot air balloon ride?

There are no strict conditions or safety apparel requirements for a hot air balloon ride, so you can wear whatever you feel most comfortable in.

The temperature will be about the same as ground level, and the flame will provide some added warmth. If anything, you will be warmer in the air than on the ground.

To accommodate for all this, your best bet is often a good pair of slacks, jeans or track pants to keep your legs warm, while a t-shirt will also do the trick. If you’re one to get chilly quickly, opt for a long-sleeved tee for extra coverage. We may land in farmland or parks, so please wear comfortable walking shoes. Heels are not suitable. You may get involved in some of the setup and pack-up of the balloon (it’s fun!), so we recommend you wear clothes that can get a little dirty.

As a general rule of thumb, be guided by the weather on the ground level, and add a few extra layers just in case. The coldest part of the morning is when you wake up, so ensure you are comfortable when you leave your hotel/house. Remember, you can always shed layers if it gets a tad bit too warm. It’s better to overdress than under. 

On top of this, a good quality hat and a pair of sunnies are advised to prevent sunburn and to give you the best viewing experience from ‘on top of the world’.

Are hot air balloons safe?

Yes. Our safety standards in Australia are the highest in the world. We are regulated by CASA, the same body that regulates our major airlines such as Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar. We employ a full time maintenance manager to ensure that our equipment is always at the highest standards.


Picture This Ballooning has maintained a flawless safety record since our inception in 1996; we maintain meticulous attention to detail and safety precautions, no matter the circumstances.

What is the best time of year to fly in a hot air balloon?

Summer is our peak period because of holidays and the warmer weather, however, we fly all year round and have some of our most amazing sunrises in winter. The start time is earlier in summer because sunrise is earlier.

As for time of day, hot air balloons fly in the early morning because that is when conditions are the most stable. Early morning typically provides the best chance for good weather – allowing for cool temperatures and the rise of the morning sun, making for a spectacular view.

When is it too hot to fly?

There are scenarios where it can be too warm for hot air balloons to take off. To enable flight, the air in the balloon needs to be significantly hotter than the air outside of the balloon. If the mercury is rising, that means more heat is required for the inside of the balloon. Above a certain outside temperature, it just isn’t possible to put enough heat into the balloon to lift it, without damaging the balloon.

At this point, the conditions would be sweltering in the basket and not at all comfortable, so it is unlikely a hot balloon would take off at all.

To avoid this situation, we are unable to fly when the morning temperature is high, and this is also why we fly in the mornings.

Is it cold in a hot air balloon?

Unless it is icy on the ground as well, the answer is no. On flights in the morning, the ground surface will actually be colder than the air at altitude. This is called temperature inversion and is one of the reasons why early mornings are the best time to fly in these nifty vehicles.

Can you fly in the rain?

Hot air balloons can fly in rain, but your experience would not be a good one. The shape of the balloon envelope means the rain will flow around the balloon and straight onto you in the basket - and you’ll get soaked. Not the kind of experience anyone wants when they go on a hot air balloon flight.

Rain will also make the balloon heavier, requiring even more heat to counteract. So, if there is rain on the horizon, it is a safe bet that we won’t take to the sky. Note that rain is only a concern if it will be falling during the time of the flight. Our pilots monitor this closely. Sometimes the general forecast might say morning rain, but if our pilots know that this rain won’t arrive until 9am, then we can have a beautiful flight from 7-8am.

Other conditions that Picture This Ballooning will consider before making the final decision to take off include:

●     The speed and direction of the surface winds

●     The speed and direction of the upper winds

●     Temperatures on the ground and in the air

●     The height of the cloud base and cover

●     Topography and its effect on temperature

●     The likelihood of fog and changes in conditions

●     Regulations around  airspace in the area

●     Air Traffic Control clearance

●     Weather and terrain conditions at potential landing sites.

Are there weight restrictions?

There are weight restrictions, merely because it is imperative for the pilot to have an exact calculation of the weight in the basket. Before each flight, the pilot does calculations based on the air temperature and conditions, to ensure that the passenger weights are within a suitable range.

This limit is dictated by the ambient temperature around the balloon and at what altitude it is flying. Additionally, the limit will dictate how many people can be in the basket, while there may be individual restrictions as well.

This varies between tour group companies, so always check ahead to find out what their specifications are.

When booking in large groups make sure you get the collective weight of the entire group before showing up on the day to ensure you meet the restrictions.

How long do rides last?

The length of the tour changes slightly every day and is dictated to by where we launch and land from. In terms of the balloon ride itself we try to fly to as close to an hour as possible.

From the meeting time it usually takes 4-4.5 hours to complete the tour. If you’ve got breakfast in your package you will be able to stay at the venue until around 10.30am - it’s a delicious unlimited buffet.

How much can a hot a balloon lift?

That depends entirely on the size of the balloon. There are small 65,000 cubic feet models that can only carry three people while there are also 350,000 cubic feet models and larger versions that are capable of lifting much more.

Picture This Ballooning has a range of different sized balloons to accommodate different group sizes, so check with us to discuss your group flying.

Do you get motion sickness on a hot air balloon?

If you can handle an everyday car ride to work, you will be fine on a hot air balloon; there is no swaying of the basket, turbulence or rocky conditions involved.

As the balloon travels with the wind, the experience is all smooth-sailing, so there is no need to worry about motion sickness either.

Vertigo can be an issue, though, so if that is a condition you suffer from, it might be best to consult your GP before booking a hot air balloon ride.

Can I fly in a hot air balloon if I am pregnant?

While all of Picture This Ballooning’s flights are smooth, sometimes landings can be a little bit bumpy. For this reason and due to CASA regulations, anybody who is pregnant will not be allowed to fly. If you have booked and you are pregnant, you can contact our office for an extension.

How old do children have to be?

CASA regulations mean that the minimum age for children to be able to fly in a hot balloon is six. This is specified on our Air Operators' Certificate and is non-negotiable.

For children above the age of six, though, we welcome them all on board.

What is the maximum height a hot air balloon can reach?

If you want to be exact, it is 68,986 feet or 21027 metres above sea level.

That is the height that Vijaypat Singhania reached in his world record flight back in 2005 from Mumbai, India to Panchale. The previous record was 19,811m (64,997 ft) and was set by Per Lindstrand on June 6, 1988, in Plano, Texas.

ballooning height.jpg

Those sorts of heights are only attempted by the best of the professionals, and recreational pilots won’t take passengers anywhere near that height. Most flights will remain between about 1000 and 3000 ft for optimum conditions and breathtaking views for the passengers in the basket.

What fuel do hot air balloons use?

Common Liquid propane gas (LPG) is used to heat hot air balloons. This is primarily because of its ability to generate a more powerful flame as well as efficient fuel consumption.

How do you learn to fly a hot air balloon?

There are two types of certification available: a commercial hot air balloon pilot and a recreational hot air balloon pilot.

A minimum of 16 flight hours is required for a recreational licence, while you must fly 75 hours as a pilot in command to earn a commercial permit.

All pilots must be licenced or certified by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to be able to fly.

hot air balloon.JPG

The process of becoming a recreational pilot takes about two to three months, while it can take much longer to gain a commercial licence due to the number of hours you need to log on different sized balloons, while there are also graded assessments.

How do you steer a hot air balloon?

This is where you really appreciate the skill it takes for pilots to navigate the vehicle.

There are no rudders, wings, jets or any other devices to propel the balloon around – there is only the burners which gives you two options: up or down.

The pilot needs to be able to read wind conditions and use different wind directions at various altitudes, to steer the balloon effectively.

How much does a hot air balloon cost?

A new four-person sports balloon including all components costs about A$45,000, while the larger models are much more expensive.

You don’t have to spend that much, though, with affordable, casual tour options available through Picture This Ballooning in Melbourne.

Enjoy scenic flights over metropolitan Melbourne, picturesque Yarra Valley, Daylesford and Ballarat – all with our highly competitive rates.

Gift vouchers and corporate packages are also available, and for that special occasion, you can book a flight for two – if you’re up for a bit of romance in the sky.

For more information on our services and tours, get in touch with the Picture This team to find out more about the packages we have on offer.

More than a flying billboard!

Why would you invest in just the one location? 


Billboard’s are designed to catch a person’s attention and create a memorable impression very quickly, leaving people to think of the advertisement after they have driven past. 

Investing in a single location where there is a high traffic flow only markets a certain sector of town. Hot air ballooning is more than just a flying billboard!


Hot Air Ballooning markets multiple 100,000’s of people every morning, flying from one side of a city to the other. By placing your or your client’s brands in stunningly unusual locations, and then capturing stills and video images for enduring value. Picture This Ballooning has pioneered a new medium in Australia – full service promotional aviation. There are three types of balloons your company could use for hot air balloon advertising – special shape balloons, branded balloons or bannered balloons. 

Sportsbet’s ‘Christ the Redeemer’ Balloon over Melbourne in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup in Rio.

Sportsbet’s ‘Christ the Redeemer’ Balloon over Melbourne in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup in Rio.


Having the flexibility to be in one location one day and one the next is what separates hot air ballooning marketing from the rest. Flying over highly populated cities and regions, as well as major landmarks often result in high media exposure. Flights in conjunction with major events such as AFL Grand Final and the Melbourne Grand Prix expose a brands image to an extreme extent with many tourists and visitors coming to a city for that particular time.  

Carlton Draught pot balloon flying over the Melbourne CBD and MCG on the morning of the 2018 AFL Grand Final.

Carlton Draught pot balloon flying over the Melbourne CBD and MCG on the morning of the 2018 AFL Grand Final.


By having a few different options to choose from, we really do offer a product for anyone. 


Brand awareness is a key consideration in consumer behaviour, advertising management, brand management and strategy development.  The consumer’s ability to recognise or recall a brand is central for investment. Hot air ballooning offers an ‘out of the box’ marketing opportunity, where you separate yourself from your competitors and expose your brand in a completely different medium. Everyone knows when you open up the newspaper there is advertising everywhere, public transport has advertising all over it, magazines, food and beverage packages – consumers don’t take note of this. You want the general public taking timeless photographs and videos and posting them to their social media accounts, this is what people do with hot air balloons. 

AGL earth hour balloon

AGL earth hour balloon


Sydney morning herald capturing the AGL earth hour balloon while on tour.

Sydney morning herald capturing the AGL earth hour balloon while on tour.

To see your brand flying high amongst the clouds, contact us on 03 9429 0277. 

The best of the best link up with Picture This for the summer ahead!

Hot Air Ballooning is a one of the top things on a tourists bucket list when they visit our city. However, it’s not only the tourists we attract to come flying with us, we also attract world class pilots from all over the globe each and every year. This year is no different where we welcome back one of Britain’s most experienced pilots Andy Kaye to fly the Australian summer with us. Not only is Andy on board, this year we have a special addition to the team here at Picture This with recently crowned Hot Air Balloon Pilot World Champion Dom Bareford signing on to fly the Summer months with us. We are thrilled to add these two British pilots with this sort of calibre to our team. 

British pilot Andy Kaye conducting a Christmas day flight in 2017

British pilot Andy Kaye conducting a Christmas day flight in 2017


Dom’s efforts to take out the 23rd FAI Hot Air Balloon Championships is an amazing effort considering he is only 25 years of age and the youngest ever World Champion.  To beat over 100 of the best pilots across the world with no doubt plenty more years experience behind them is outstanding. The two week event with the best of the best around the world was one not to be missed and is always pin pointed on a balloonists calendar. 

Dom Bareford at the top of the podium following his World Championship victory.

Dom Bareford at the top of the podium following his World Championship victory.


Coming from a family packed with experienced Hot Air Balloon pilots, Dom was always destined for the big stage. His father David and sister Stephanie have both been crowned World Champions in the past. Austria’s event was Dom’s second World Championships after he first competed in Japan four years earlier which makes the triumph even more impressive.  


Picture This Ballooning strive to have the best pilots in the business operating the flights as it provides passengers with the most complete experience with the best of the best behind the wheel!

Exciting Summer awaits! Be sure to jump on board with us soon.

Grand Final week was a huge buzz!

Grand Final week is always an extremely special time to be in Melbourne with all the events and attractions happening leading into the blockbuster match on Saturday afternoon. This year was made even more special for our team as we were lucky enough to be involved with a number of opportunities during the week.

With Collingwood involved in the last day of September, there was a special buzz in our office due to the fact half our employees are mad magpies no more than our CEO Damian Crock.  So with all this being said the opportunity to Fly Collingwood’s number one supporter ‘Joffa’ on the Wednesday with Channel 9’s Today Show was amazing. It’s fair to say live television really is nerve wracking but ‘Joffa’ and Today Show reporter Christine Ahern handled the broadcast from the clouds beautifully. The nature of Ballooning is interesting, you cannot set a time or location on anything as you are going with the conditions that is presented on the morning, however that being said Channel 9’s one demand was to be over the middle of the MCG at 6:35am for the live cross. Pete Wright our Chief Pilot absolutely nailed it to perfection, hovering directly over the middle of the MCG for the live cross with the hosts back in the studio. The exposure we received following this was great with stunning footage and shots taken by Channel 9 and Collingwood FC media team.

Channel 9’s Christine Ahern & Joffa moments before the live cross on The Today Show.

Channel 9’s Christine Ahern & Joffa moments before the live cross on The Today Show.

Thumbs up from Joffa on board!

Thumbs up from Joffa on board!

The exciting week rolled onto Grand Final Day. With an early start for the team, meeting together at 1:30am for the Carlton Draught Pot Balloon MCG flyover at 6:30am with a number of Carlton Draught executives as well as Channel 7 filming the flight for their Grand Final Day broadcast. The flight took off from West Gate Park and headed towards Doncaster, straight over the middle of the MCG with thousands of phones capturing the moment from the MCC members line. This was a huge success and the shots taken from our Helicopter with experienced photographers and videographers on board are timeless. This was part one of Grand Final day completed, next was on to a Carlton Draught Pot tether in Yarra Park supporting the ‘longest kick’ competition.

Carlton Draught Pot Balloon with the MCG and city in the background, shot taken from the Helicopter.

Carlton Draught Pot Balloon with the MCG and city in the background, shot taken from the Helicopter.

We were confronted with quite difficult conditions at Yarra Park with wind gusts of up to 40km per hour. This proved challenging to keep the balloon steady at times while Channel 7’s Samantha Lane was filmed doing her ‘arrival to work’. Luckily Melbourne’s wind settled for a little while and it provided a calm entrance for Samantha Lane and Channel 7 were able to shoot her arrival beautifully. Following the filming, we unfortunately didn’t last too much longer tethered due to the wind. For safety reasons we ceased our tether around mid-morning, but everything out of the morning was executed to a tee.

Our team were welcomed and look after beautifully by Carlton Draught at the Front Bar marquee for the afternoon where we all enjoyed watching the match, unfortunately for many of our staff they left in tears and heartbroken. Better luck next year pies fans...  

Colours brighten the Albuquerque desert

The 46th Annual Hot Air Balloon festival was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico in early October.  
This year saw thousands of people flock to the remote location to witness bright colours, funny shapes and iconic faces take to the air in what can only be described as a hot air balloonists dream come true. 

The week long festival celebrates all things balloons with inflation and launch races, mass ascensions and special shape rodeo.  However, no festival is complete without chainsaw carving, laser lights, fireworks and live music.  

Economists calculate that 2015's festival attracted nearly 1 millions visitors over it's duration, and injected an estimates USD$177.4m to the New Mexico economy.  Many of the visitors to the Albuquerque Balloon festival travel from other American states and internationally to basque in the glory of they year's entertainment and see the sky come to life. 

Havasu Balloon Festival 13-15 January 2017

Despite a rainy weekend, there has been another successful Havasu Balloon Festival hosted last week in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. 

The festival's Saturday events were plagued with rain and wind, but the enthusiastic crowds persisted and, due to larger than expected Sunday crowds when the skies cleared, the three-day event had nearly 30,000 people attend and continued its support for over 30 local charities. 

Take a look at some photos of the balloons over the lake.

More images (all images from HERE.

The Aussies take on the world

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi

We are so proud to announce that our Chief Pilot Peter Wright will go to Japan accompanied by Simon Beare and Ben Philips to the Saga International Balloon Fiesta.

It is a yearly event that takes place near the Kase River. This event involves more than a hundred balloons from 15 countries that take part in the festival and it has been dubbed as one of the biggest balloon festivals in Asia. There are 3 main attractions that you have to see in this event!

Balloon Contest (fingers crossed for Pete) there are 38 different countries and more than 100 balloons will participate this competition to win the championship. The feast will attract nearly one million visitors.

Balloon Fantasia - big parade of special shaped character balloons.

La Montgolfier Nocturne where burners are lit up in the night.

Here is some more info for you to enjoy:

Australian Balloon Team


A timelapse of hundreds of hot air balloons, including a flying dog, a cow and a pirate ship!

Every year the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta has hundreds of hot air balloons, including many special shapes. These come from around the world to show off what they can do, at the world's largest hot air balloon festival.

As you can see from this stunning timelapse video, the conditions were so perfect that rather than flying in one direction, the balloons were able to go around and around by changing altitude. Perfect for viewing!

Credit to Bryan Snider for the beautiful photography: