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Who can fail to be excited by the sight of a majestic hot-air balloon drifting over summer cornfields or cricket greens on a balmy summer evening? There is a great feeling of peace and tranquillity around.

Balloon flying can be quite expensive when provided by a commercial operator. However some private balloon owners are often happy to introduce groups of scouts to their hobby and hopefully give a practical demonstration.

Preparing the balloon for flight is a lengthy operation and there is plenty of opportunity for enthusiastic scouts to make themselves useful. There is equipment to move about and vast amounts of balloon fabric to hold. Also in the latter stages of inflation, ballast is needed for the basket. Post-flight activity also lends itself to scout assistance, sometimes even to rescuing the device from a local duck-pond.

Because of the vast bulk and weight of an inflated balloon, this activity is only practical when the air is very still. This would be at first light or in the evening. A cross-country flight would last an hour or two, but obviously this is restricted by the passenger capacity of the basket. This is usually three or more, up to a vast 24 in one case. A way of flying more scouts is for the balloon to be tethered and rise to 100 feet or so, then back down to change over passengers. This puts a lot of strain on the balloon, so many pilots would prefer not to do so.

How to run/provide ballooning

There are 2 ways of running Ballooning in Scouting. These are:

  1. Scout-led activity - running ballooning yourself or using someone else in Scouting

  2. Externally-led activity - running ballooning using an external provider

Useful links

The National Governing Body for ballooning is:

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