Up In The Air

Before and throughout our Strathaven Balloon Festival, we keep our eyes on the special aviation forecast provided by the Meteorological Office. For balloons, it is essential that wind speed is very low, as any significant breeze will make a hot air balloon unstable, and difficult or impossible to fly safely. Even if it’s a lovely day in the John Hastie Park in Strathaven, there may be unseen wind high above the ground, which would prevent balloons being launched.

Which month is best for hot air ballooning? We have experimented with different months and have studied weather patterns, only to find that it makes little difference to the chance of good flying conditions.
Of course, we can be lucky ..... or unlucky, even within the same weekend! In 2008, for instance, we had every possible balloon in the sky on the Friday evening and Saturday morning, making it one of the most successful launch occasions in the UK ballooning calendar, but a storm blew in on the Saturday evening! We have to take our chances as they come, but always put safety first.

Our balloons fly only early in the morning (around 6.30) and early evening (from about 6.30) when the cool air conditions are safe, for while a glider pilot is delighted by daytime thermals (naturally-rising currents of hot air) which help the glider to climb, such warm air rising could send a hot air balloon out of control. During our Family Fun afternoons, however, if it’s not too windy, you will have plenty of opportunity to see a hot air balloon demonstrated - unpacked, tethered to a heavy vehicle (to stop it flying away!) and able to float a few feet above the ground in the Festival arena.