Hot Air Balloons, on everyone's bucket list The 7th Annual Citrus Classic Balloon Festival will field approximately 25 hot air balloons. The pilots of these balloons travel from around the country to fly in beautiful Ventura County. They include winners of international and national competitions, with most logging over 20 years of balloon flying. Check back for updates on returning balloons, your favorite balloon pilots, and Corporate Balloons participating in 2014! Supervising their flights and all ballooning operations of the Citrus Classic is Fantasy Balloon Flights, our Official Balloon Meister. Owned by the husband/wife team of Steve and Cynthia Wilkinson, Fantasy Balloon Flights has been operating hot air balloons in Ventura County for over 11 years, and at balloon events nationwide for over 23 years. Fantasy Balloon Flights have flown hot air balloons in Taiwan, Turkey, Mexico, Germany and several other international locations. Steve Wilkinson is also a registered Official with the Balloon Federation of America.
View our HALL OF FAME below - images of the Corporate Balloons and Special Shape Balloons that have participated in the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival over the years.
RE/MAX Corporate Balloon carries members of Fred Evans' Gold Coast Team
Sushi, the darling goldfish, performed in 2009 piloted by Katie Griggs
A crowd favorite, Humpty Dumpty sailed into town for the '12 Classic.
A returning favorite, the Panda's pilot, Tim Chicco, explains balloon flight to the crowd
The Good Witch flew into town, piloted by Pat Nilz
The Strawberry soared overheade in '09 and '10, captained by Denni Barrett.
Steve Wilkinson, Returning Balloon Meister for the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival
PASSENGER BALLOON RIDES Balloon rides are not typically available to the public during the course of the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival. First passenger seats are given to the Corporate and Family Sponsors who generously contributed to make the Citrus Classic possible in 2009.
Passenger balloon flights will be available for sale at the Citrus Classic Balloon Festival in the form of Gift Certificates. Those Gift Certificates may be redeemed in Santa Paula or Palm Springs with Fantasy Balloon Flights at any future date AFTER July 26th (the conclusion of the Citrus Classis Balloon Festival.) Balloon passenger flights may also be purchased prior to the Citrus Classic via Fantasy Balloon Flights at (760)250-5926 or www.fantasyballoonflight.comStandard prices are $185.00 per adult, $165.00 per senior 60 years and older, and $145.00 for children 7 years and older.
TETHER BALLOON RIDES Tether Balloon Rides are not in-air flight passengers rides. Instead, tether passengers climb into the balloon basket, and ascend 1-2 feet off the ground, or higher to 75-100 feet, while the hot air balloon is still anchored to the ground via tether lines. It's a great way to give hot air ballooning a try without ascending very high, or flying any distance! And what better photo opportunity for kids and family members!
Individual Balloon Pilots will offer Tether Balloon Rides Saturday Morning only. The timing of the balloon ascensions and tether rides depends on the weather and marine layer conditions in the morning, but typically occur between 6:30 am and 10am*. Availability depends on prevailing wind, weather and safety conditions at the time AND each individual Balloon Pilot. Each hot air balloon can accommodate different numbers of tether passengers and weight load. Therefore, it is the responsibility of each Balloon Pilot to decide whether and how many Tether Rides to provide during the event. Adults $20/Youth 6 to 14 $15/Children 5 and younger are free. Tickets may be purchased at the BALLOON RIDE concession stand: all proceeds benefit the individual pilots. All children must be supervised by an adult.
Airplane Aerobatics Pilot Mike Dewey tries a new kind of flying!
Curious about hot air balloons and how they work? Read on. . .! How does a balloon work? Hot air balloons fly because the air inside of the envelope is hotter than the outside air. By using propane-fueled burners, the air is heated, and the balloon ascends. To descend, the air inside the balloon must be cooled by either letting the envelope cool on its own or by opening the vent at the top of the envelope to let some of the hot air out. Throughout a flight, the pilot will use a combination of heating and cooling the balloon to ascend and descend. And when it is time to land, the top of the envelope is opened completely to let all of the air out and deflate the balloon. When do balloons fly? Since balloon flights require specific weather conditions, flights generally occur at sunrise or just before sunset when the winds are the lightest. If wind speed at the time of launch is more than 7 miles an hour, it is too dangerous to fly. Other weather conditions such as rain, low clouds and certain wind direction, will keep the balloons on the ground for safety reasons. Where will the balloons launch from? The hsitorical Santa PaulaAirport, as determined by wind and the weather. How many people can ride in a balloon at once? Balloon capacity depends on the size of the envelope and on weather conditions, specifically the outside air temperature. The balloons that participate in our festival typically can hold between 2 and 3 passengers, but will be offering rides just to sponsors during the Festival. How long is a balloon ride? Balloon flights can range anywhere from 45 minutes to over an hour depending on wind and weather conditions and direction of flight, and a few other variables. This includes the set up, flight, pack up, and return trip to the festival. How high, how fast, and how far will the balloons fly? Hot air balloons usually cruise at an altitude of 1.000 feet above ground. Many balloon flights occur between 100 and 2,000 feet above the ground, but balloons can fly at treetop level or go much higher. Since balloons travel with the wind, the balloon will only go as fast as the wind is blowing, generally not much faster than 8 - 10 mph. The distance the balloon will travel also depends on the speed of the wind as well as the duration of the flight. For example, an hour-long flight with winds averaging 5 mph will travel a distance of about 5 miles. Where will the balloons land? Balloons travel with the wind. Pilots may change directions by ascending or descending to pick up varying wind directions at different altitudes. Therefore, balloons will land wherever the wind takes them under the pilotís steerage, in large open areas such as fields, parking lots, and parks. How do the balloons get back to the festival? Each balloon has a ground Crew in contact with the balloon via radio. The Crew follows the balloon's path on the ground in the chase vehicle, and meets the balloon where it lands to help pack it up. Once the balloon is packed up, the team will ride back to the festival grounds in the chase vehicle. Are there any passenger restrictions? Almost anyone can take a balloon ride, however there are some restrictions for safety reasons. Passengers should be tall enough to see over the edge of the basket (about 42 inches high), be able to stand for at least an hour, have no medical issues that may affect your ability to participate in light physical activity, and should not be too far along in pregnancy. All passengers should be sure to inform their pilot of any and all potential medical or physical problems prior to flight. Children must be 7 years and older for free-flightrides, and 5 years old and accompanies by an adult for tethered rides. What is a tethered balloon ride? Tethered rides allow one to get a taste of ballooning without leaving the ground. Balloons are tied to the ground with tether ropes about 100 feet in length. When passengers get into the basket, the balloon goes up until the ropes are fully extended, then returns to the ground. The ride lasts about 5 minutes if winds are calm. How much does a balloon cost to buy? A brand new regular shaped balloon system costs $30,000 plus. A special shaped balloon costs $200,000 plus. Used balloons cost less, based on age, number of hours flown. What are the components of a hot air balloon? The two main components of a balloon system are the envelope (brightly colored inflatable sphere) and the gondola, or basket. The envelope is usually made of rip-stop nylon fabric (the same fabric as a parachute) and ranges from 60 to 80 feet high. The diameter ranges from 30 to 40 feet. The gondola is made of wicker and is framed by aluminum or stainless steel. It carries the propane gas tanks, an instrument panel, the pilot and passengers. The instrument panel contains an altimeter, which measures altitude; a pyrometer, which measures heat at the top of the envelope; and a variometer, which measures rate of ascent and descent.
Balloon/Envelope - The air bag of a hot air balloon system that is constructed of nylon or polyester fabric coated with polyurethane, which makes less porous and protects it from the sun rays. A framework of nylon webbing is sewn into the fabric, which strengthens the envelope. Balloon System - A balloon system includes the envelope, basket and burner for a self contained flying vehicle. Basket - Pilot and passenger compartment attached to a hot air balloon. It is usually made of wicker, a flexible and lightweight material that provides good shock absorption. Burner - A system of gas valves and jets fed from a fuel tank (usually propane) the warms the air within the envelope, causing the balloon to rise. Chase Crew - One or more people who follow a launched balloon and attempt to be whenever and wherever the balloon lands. Hot Air Balloon - A balloon that uses heated air contained within an envelope. Heated air is less dense than the cooler air surrounding it that allows the balloon to rise. Lines - Ropes used to move, hold or position a boat or balloon. Vector - A wind current moving in a specific direction. Balloon pilots look for currents to help carry them toward and objective or target.