Photo credit (above): Craig O’Brien
There’s no mistaking it: Skydiving out of hot air balloons is most definitely a Thing. In fact, people have been parachuting from hot air balloons since shortly after the Montgolfier brothers invented them. During World War I–a century ago!–hot air balloons were used as warships, and hundreds of pilots saved their lives by parachuting from them when they caught fire (or were otherwise incapacitated). Hot air balloons even have history in skydiving training: During World War II and the Cold War, the British Army even used balloons as aircraft to train new jumpers.
In modern times, the usefulness of hot air balloons for skydiving is much more on the “fun” side of the fence. Curious? Here’s the deal.
What’s Different About A Hot Air Balloon Jump
Skydiving from a hot air balloon is a bucket-list treat for experienced skydivers because it feels so elementally different to jump from one than it does to jump from a normal aircraft. Because a hot air balloon is essentially hanging in the air, there’s no relative wind as you exit, so jumpers are unable to use that pressure to maneuver when they exit a balloon. Skydiving out of a hot air balloon offers the jumper no real “control” for the first few seconds of freefall–just a weightless drop. We call this a “dead air” exit–and it feels crazy. For this reason, it’s recommended that you have a B-license equivalent (50 jumps) to jump a hot air balloon.
It’s also very, very, very quiet. In fact, a hot air balloon skydive is eerily silent for the first 5-10 seconds (which feels interminable in the context of a jump). As your body picks up speed, you’ll start to hear the wind slowly pick up, but it feels like it takes ages to do so.
The Importance Of Timing
Because the wind needs to be as close to totally still as possible for the hot air balloon to fly safely, balloon jumps are almost always relegated to the still hours of the day: the early mornings and the late afternoon. If the hot air balloon pilot sees that the forecasted wind won’t be picking up for a while, she/he may schedule more than one “hop” for the given time bracket. The first “hop” will likely take off from an established launch zone; the second “hop” will require all the jumpers (and passengers) to race out to where the balloon lands, then take off directly from wherever that might be. If it’s your first time skydiving from a hot air balloon–and especially if you’re nervous–you should try your best to wake up good and early to be on the first, less-frantic “hop.” You’ll be glad you did.
How Do I Do a Hot Air Balloon Skydive?
Because they’re difficult to administer, regularly scheduled balloon skydiving is a pretty uncommon thing to find. That said: Here at Skydive Perris, ready access to hot air balloon skydiving is just another reason we’re unicorn-special. There’s an outfit that operates right here in Perris called Balloon Skydive, which offers sunrise balloon jumps pretty much 365 days a year. You’ll rock up with all your own equipment and your paperwork firmly in order, then sign your waiver do a glorious balloon jump over our beautiful Perris Valley. If you have friends with you who want to take the balloon down again, that’s no problem. Anyone may fly as a ride-along for approximately the same price.
At Perris, we don’t administer tandem skydives from hot air balloons, but we cheer on our experienced skydivers as they check off this key item on their skydiving bucket lists. Want to try your hand at a hot-air huck? Get your solo skydiving A license through our world-class program, and you can make that landmark leap!