Below you will find a list of many of the questions past passengers have had. We have arranged links into the phrase you are most likely to begin with when asking a question. Below each phrase you will find links to the answers for the actual questions you may have. Please take a moment to look for your answers. You are most likely only ONE click away from your answer. Thank you.
What / If ?
- What if I get Motion Sickness easy?
- What if we do not have a car?
- What time do we meet and when are we finished?
- What should we wear or how should we dress?
- What if someone is AFRAID OF HEIGHTS?
- What about small children?
- What does (ad) and (jr) mean on the Calendar?
- What if we are coming from a long ways away?
- What if someone can not stand for an hour?
- What if the weather is bad?
- If the weather is bad do I get my money back?
- How much does it Cost?
- How Long do we fly?
- How High will we go?
- How do I find out if the weather is bad?
- How often do you have to cancel a flight?
- How many people go in one balloon?
- How do we get into and out of the basket?
- How do I make a reservation?
- How far in advance should I BOOK!
- How Rough are the landings?
Thompson Aire has closed. Our Chief Pilot Jeff Thompson has suffered a Hemorrhagic stroke. While fortunate to have survived his commercial balloon flying days are over. To make matters worse his 6 year old boy Noah has been diagnosed with Leukemia. Here are two articles you an read about the horrible medical conditions at the Thompson Compound.
A. We do not. We are no longer flying passengers.
A. AT SUNRISE 7 DAYS A WEEK (WEATHER PERMITTING)
Our meeting time is 6am year round. You must call the night before your flight between 5 and 7 pm to find out if the weather will permit us to fly. If you are getting picked up from your hotel we will confirm the pickup time when you call in the night before.
A. Hot air balloons are completely dependent on the wind.
A. A hot air balloon will land at what ever the speed of the wind.
We do not have control over the wind speed at landing time. Air has many similar qualities of water. We could descend into relatively calm conditions near the ground or we could descend, for landing, and find ourselves increasing in speed. We have no brakes, in other words we land the balloon by dragging the basket on the ground. I have seed days where I could point out a manhole cover three miles away and land directly on it and I have seen days were I have drug along the ground the length of a football field before I got the balloon stopped. Overall we are very careful of the conditions we choose to fly in and safety is our top priority, however, we are dealing with mother nature and can not predict what the weather can or could do.
A. We have about 30 different launch and landing sites in the Disney area.
Each day is different. What launch and landing sites we will use on any day is determined by the speed and direction of the wind that day. Today's launch site might be tomorrows landing site or we might not go back to that site for weeks.
A. We will go as far as the wind will take us.
Remember balloons float with the wind. We have seen days where we flew for one hour and 15 minutes and went one mile! We have also seen days where we flew for 45 minutes and went 27 miles. For more information about flying balloons read the About the Aircraft page.
A. We will fly for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on launch & landing sites and wind speeds.
Our safe weather conditions normally last for about an hour after sunrise. We plan our launch and landing sites biased on wind forecasts as well as observations we take at the meeting location before we leave. Our goal is to choose launch and landing sites that are about 45 minutes to one hour of flight time apart. Keep in mind we do not promise any specific flight length. If the forecast tells us that we will find 14mph wind speed and we get up in the air and the winds are 21mph we will be arriving at our landing site sooner than later. To understand more about why we only fly for an hour click on the link. Why do we fly so early?
A.When the passengers start to pass out from lack of oxygen it is time to go back down.
In our flying area we have a ceiling of 6000 feet. Our normal flight goes anywhere from tree tops to a couple of thousand feet. There are days when we spend a large portion of our flight up high and some days down low so we can take advantage of winds that are moving in the direction we need to go to get to a suitable landing site. Read About the Aircraft.
A. NO, Sunrise is the only time of the day when weather conditions will allow us to fly here in Florida.
In other parts of the world you may fly a flight in the late afternoon just before sunset, however, here in Florida the sun is so strong that the atmosphere does not calm down enough for us to fly another flight.
A. WE HAVE FLOWN UP TO 275 FLIGHTS A YEAR. THIS AVERAGES ABOUT 5 FLIGHTS PER WEEK.
But weather is weather, there is no way of knowing for sure. It is very much like flipping a coin. You have just as much chance of being right as you do being wrong. Even with this average we still must cancel flights occasionally due to inclement weather. Choose a day early in your trip so as to have backup days available just in case.
Above you can see the same month on two different years. One year we fly almost every day. The other year less than half the days were flyable. Even WE DON'T KNOW!
A. Balloons vary in capacity from 4 to 22 adults.
We do not like the larger balloons for several reasons. Most important is your flying pleasure! We just do not like the Tour BUS mentality. Yes we could make more money that way but we are creating memories for YOU not trying to put more 0's on our bank balance. Our balloons range from a pilot plus two passenger up to pilot plus 6 to 8 passengers at most. What size balloon or how many balloons are used depends on how many people are scheduled that day.
Our competitors in this area fly the 16-18 passenger balloons. Don't forget to ask how many other people will be sharing your special flight..
Getting in and out of our baskets is rather simple. Put your foot into the step and grab the bar over your head and climb in. Think of it like getting into a bathtub shower. There are also seats inside the basket that you can use to step on as well.
In reality our guests find it more difficult getting in and out of our vans than the balloons. Funny that I have never received an email with a concern about getting in and out of our trucks. That is far more challenging for some than the balloon!
A. Yes we call that a private balloon.
Our balloons come in several sizes. We will use the sizes or combination of sizes that best suits the number of people who are scheduled for that day. We will combine groups to fit the balloons so that we have no empty seats. If you wish to have a private balloon to yourselves please view our Private Flight page.
A. Yes it does!
In a hot air balloon you, as a passenger, represent a significant percentage of the total aircraft weight load.
On an airplane you represent only one out of 250 people so if you are overweight by 100 pounds then the total average weight per person, only changes by less than half a pound. Some people have more than that for lunch.
In a balloon one person can represent about 25% of the total passenger load so 100 pounds changes the per person weight by 25 pounds each! That is the weight of a small child. Imagine what we would have to do if someone showed up with 4 extra kids we did not expect. we would not be prepared for that and could not take them flying that day.
Currently we do not make an additional charge for additional weight but we do reserve the right to decline to fly someone on any given day if that persons weight significantly changes the total passenger load for that flight. Please if you are significantly overweight let us know. It is very easy for us to schedule the right size balloon to accommodate you.
A. We try as often as we can to go over the parks.
Balloons float with the wind so we don't get to choose the direction we may travel. Mother nature will choose our flight path. Many times we do fly over part of the Disney World property. We don't always go OVER Disney but you can see the parks from most all of our flights. Keep in mind how big Disney is, you could go right over the Magic Kingdom and still be FIVE MILES away from Epcot. Disney is the size of a CITY. We could fly over your city and still be miles away from your house.
Here is a great analogy.
Take a roll of pennies and set a coffee cup on a table about 30 feet away. Now start throwing the pennies at the cup, BUT WAIT… Before you start to throw pennies, tell me how many of pennies you are going to make into the cup and better yet tell me exactly which ones will go in. We have no clue when we will go over the parks nor could we even begin to predict what day or what part of Disney we may go across. Anyone who thinks they can is blowing smoke up your coffee cup…
BUT... If you have a way to make the wind blow in the direction you choose please back away from the computer and call me right away. I want to talk to you!!!
A. We offer hotel pickup.
Just let us know that you need picked up when you schedule your flight and we will arrange it. The fee is $15 per person and that is round trip. We will pick you up and take you back after. This is about 1/2 what a taxi will cost you!
Here is where you can go and find out what the estimated cost of a taxi would be. Taxi Fair Estimator Remember this is "One Way" and also remember that on the way back there will be heavy theme park traffic so the cost will be even higher! Another thing to consider is that the Taxi driver may not know where he is going, and that it is not uncommon, for a taxi to be late, especially at that time of morning. Remember Sunrise will NOT wait. Sure would hate for you to miss your flight because a taxi was late picking you up. We will not wait!
A. The entire program takes 3 to 4 hours.
We meet at 6 am and you will be done around 9:30. About the time when the Disney Parks begin to open.
Average time span. We start with a pre-flight briefing where we explain the mornings program from start to finish (about 10 minutes) we then launch a small helium balloon and see what the wind speeds and directions are. (about 10 minutes) This determines what launch and landing sites we will use for that day. We load up in our vehicles and head out for a launch site. (2-20 minute drive) We inflate the balloon's (about 15 minutes.) Take off and fly 45-60 min. Land and pack up. 15 minutes. We celebrate with the traditional Champagne toast. 15-20 minutes. Load up and head back to the Meeting Location. Plan on being done around 9:00 - 9:30am
Q. Can we bring cameras and video gear?
Bring lots of film or batteries and memory cards. You will love the photos you take! also if you have extra batteries that may be something you will be glad you packed.
A. NO Deposit Required.
To book your flight you will need a credit card to reserve your spots. No charges will be made until after the flight. After the flight on the ride back to the meeting location we will ask you how you would like to pay for your flight. You may pay in any manor you would like.
Here is a link to our cancellation policy page. Cancellation Policy.
A. NO! We only charge the survivors.
Please go and read the Cancellation Policy again! We do not take any money in advance, so, if you do not get to fly we don't have anything to give back!
A. Actually you will be WARMER in the balloon.
(There's a Clue here....HOT air balloon,)
HOT air balloons float with the wind so there is no wind chill. Generally in the morning as we climb the air actually gets warmer by a few degrees.. You may want to wear a hat to protect your head from the radiant heat of the balloon burners. On the average you will be 8 to 10 degrees warmer in the balloon than if you were still on the ground.
A. Imagine if you were going to the park or out on a hike in the woods.
We will be out in open pastures and fields. The grass in many cases is tall and wet from the morning dew. We suggest you dress as if you were going for a hike in the woods or a walk in the park. Because we will be out in open and most often unkept areas we do not suggest open toed shoes such as sandals and flip flops. You feet will most likely get dirty and wet.
This is an outdoor sport! Balloons need large areas to launch and to land. This means open fields like Farms, Cattle Pastures and hay fields and large open and often UN-KEPT land. This means tall grass, Cows, Bugs, Ants and many other items associated with large open areas. O did we say OUT DOORS..
We do not choose what fields happen to be lined up with the wind direction on any given day. SO... Assume your shoes will be soaked and have mud all over them and your pants will be wet all the way up to your knees.
THEN when we land somewhere nice you will be thrilled and when you wear sandals or flip flops you will understand why we are all laughing. O did we say OUT DOORS..
On a serious note. Fire Ants are everywhere in Florida. Watch where you walk and where you stand. If you stand near a colony or on a mound they will swarm and begin to bite you. They are painful and if you are bitten enough you may need medical attention or an antihistamine to combat the swelling.
O an by the way. There are no snakes.. We put a sign up that says "No Snakes Allowed"
A. Yes, There are days when we need time for maintenance, inspections or for other reasons to put special rules on a specific date.
Here is a great example of a special rule. Valentines Day. This is one of the most popular days to fly and especially on those years where the 14th falls on a weekend. We will be FULL WEEKS in advance. If you have purchased a voucher from an outside seller you can not use it on Valentines day. WE are not getting our full price. They take a commission out of your ticket price.
Think of it this way.
You sell widgets. There is one day a year where the demand for widgets is so HIGH you are going to sell every widget you have in stock. In FACT you could sell more than twice as many widgets as you can possibly have on hand at any one time. So are you going to discount the widget on that day?
We only have so many seats. We do honor vouchers sold by outside ticket sellers and use them to fill in the empty seats on board our balloons. This keeps us from flying empty seats and lowering our overall cost. But.... on a day when we know every seat will be FULL (even if we charged twice the normal price) it would be silly and bad business to fly discounted tickets. Remember after all is said and done. This is a business and if we fail to be profitable it becomes a very expensive hobby.
Moral of the story. Buy from the service provider and not the middle man.
Here is a website where you can find real balloonists who offer balloon rides nation wide and avoid the middlemen.
A. No. The balloon does not know the difference.
As much as we would like to we simply do not have the margin to give any additional discounts beyond our normal discounts for family's or multiple passengers.
Hot Air Balloons age per hour of flight time regardless of who is on board. To give discounts for any special group of people means that we favor them over someone else. We would also have to charge someone else more to be able to give you the discount and that too is something we frown upon. Why should someone else give up there hard earned money to pay for any part your balloon ride?
You are welcome to ask someone else to chip in for your flight but please do not ask us to do that for you! Stealing money from those who have earned it and giving it to those who have not earned it is the job of our government and not ours.
The next problem is who do you give the special discounts to? What makes someone worthy of special treatment over someone else? Here again we get into a sticky mess. My group is better than your group and so on. We just go by one simple slogan,
"We don't play games with our prices and we don't play games with your life"
If you want cheap we are simply not it. We do this for a living and not a hobby.
A. YES... YES you must be on time.
We can not express this enough. Our timetable is dictated by sunrise. We can not stop or slow down the sunrise. Once the sun comes up it will begin to heat the earth and take away the calm that we need for safe flight. WE MUST FLY during the first hour of daylight to be safe. After that the winds will increase and so will the risk of being hurt. WE WILL NOT risk harm to those passengers who did show up on time for those who for what ever reason can not be on time. How would you feel if we took extra risks with your life for someone who could not follow simple instructions. If you are running late CALL US RIGHT AWAY and we don't mean 10 minutes after you should have shown up. Please understand when we must leave we will. We do not care if you are only 10 minutes away we must leave and the pilots are the only ones who have the training to make that decision so it does not matter if YOU think we could or should wait. If you call and ask if we can wait, do not be surprised if we ask, if you can stop sunrise.
SUNRISE SETS OUR SCHEDULE. IF YOU ARE LATE WE WILL LEAVE WITHOUT YOU!
Be on time or 15 minutes early just to be safe.
A. Overhead is the simple answer.
The electric bill still needs to be paid and the phone bill needs to be paid and the balloons have to be insured and inspected annually and the trucks have to have insurance and MORE! There are bills that have to be paid even if we NEVER FLY A SINGLE FLIGHT. It cost money to be ready to fly you. We make our certificates good for an entire year to give you the time to take your flight. Even if the weather cancels your flight there is still time to take the flight but. The over head has to be paid even if you do not fly we are still paying the bills to be ready to fly you when you choose to fly but we can not keep you on the books forever. This is also why there are no refunds on gift certificates.
In downtown Disney they have a big helium filled balloon on a cable that you can go up and down in for very little money. They call that a balloon ride too!
Some of the other hot air balloon companies in this area fly 18 to 24 passenger balloons so you can get a discount if you want to fly with 20 other people at the same time.
You can also find some guys here that have a balloon in a trailer, or a balloon in their garage and flying a balloon is a hobby for them. They try to earn a little extra money by taking people for rides. They are less expensive too!
All of them are less expensive and offer all kinds of discounts. If that is what it takes to get your booking then please call them.
We are simply the best of the best. SEE: Why Choose US
We do not cut corners, we have the best pilots and do not take chances. If you want to have a great time and be sure you are in good hands then Thompson Aire is who you want.
Besides, Be Honest, what are you going to save? Ten or fifteen bucks?
What is your life worth?
We know that occasionally there is someone who just does not want to FLY! We have what is called the Chase Package. You do everything the fliers do except the flight. Click on Chase Package for more information.
You need a reservation. Our balloons hold between two to eight passengers. If you just show up for a flight we may not have room to add you that day. Remember we try NOT to fly with empty seats since that will cause everyone else to pay more.
WE RECOMMEND YOU SCHEDULE YOUR FLIGHT ABOUT A WEEK IN ADVANCE FOR A WEEKDAY FLIGHT AND TWO WEEKS FOR A WEEKEND. If you need a flight the next morning do not hesitate to call. many times we can get you in on short notice. But you must call us so we can try to get you in. Do not show up for a flight without a reservation. PLEASE
A. As a parent you would be rich if you had a dollar for every time you said "Hot Hot. No No." We normally DO NOT recommend the flight for children under the age of 5.
I have a 6 year old who has flown 8 times and a three year old who has not made his first flight yet. The main problem we encounter with small children is the balloons burner. They are very powerful and loud. This tends to frighten small children. Wearing earplugs has helped some children in the past. Keep in mind also that with small children along you will force us to reduce our weather tolerance some. A landing that healthy adults can handle safely and a landing with small children are quite different. Children do not hang on the same way an adult does and if you are holding on for the kids “Who is hanging on for you”? REMEMBER: WE DON’T GET TO CHOOSE the landing conditions. That is up to mother nature. Another issue is understanding and obeying the pilots instructions. Small children do not communicate well and often do not obey instructions.
We are not against families flying with us. In fact we are very very family friendly because we all grew up doing this as a family. We just want you properly warned before you come so your youngsters can enjoy the flight as well. All of my nieces and nephews have flown when they were just 3 years old. My own daughter Ava flew three times before the age of three.
If you have children under the age of 5 please take the time to talk to them about the balloon and make sure they understand that the fire is how we make the balloon fly and it wont hurt them. Also consider ear plugs for the children and give them a test run before you come to fly. They have no benefit if you can not get the child to wear them.
Here is a photo of the Thompson family ballooning in 1977
35 years later a third generation takes her first flight.
Its like my dad used to say. "If the kids aren't happy then moms not happy and if moms not happy no one is."
A. Call Us!! 352-874-8448 or Book Online.
We need to know how many in your group, what day you want to fly, a good contact phone number for you and a credit card to reserve your spots.
We have been operating hot air balloons for OVER 38 years. We simply will not fly unless the conditions are right. We maintain our aircraft to the highest standards. Even above the standards required by the FAA! When we must cancel a flight we tell our passengers one simple thing.
"We hate to disappoint someone but we refuse to hurt anyone".
This includes us since we are going up there too.... With Thompson Aire you are in the safest hands possible with an average flight experience of 30 years per pilot.
Our chief pilot Jeff Thompson is just a few short months away from receiving the Ed Yost Master Aeronaut award. There have only been a couple of dozen Master pilot awards given out and very few of those are still living or flying.
A. WE DON'T FLY!
If the weather forecast does not look good for your flight we will simply ask if you have another day you would like to try to fly. Our pilots are the best and we respect their decision if we must cancel a flight. Over the years we have gotten real good at reading the weather. We have lived the weather for over 40 years now. If there is a chance of flying we will go out but if there is no chance then we will not drag you out of bed for no reason.
A. All passengers, are asked to call the night before the flight to check the weather forecast for the next morning's flight.
We ask that the passengers call 352-874-8448 between 5 and 7pm the night before your flight. One of our Pilots will be on duty to let you know what the forecast looks like for the next mornings flight.
If you fail to check in the night before you may just end up at The meeting locatation all by yourself. If the weather forecast is bad we will not be showing up at the meeting location.
A. We tried calling our passengers and it did not work.
Many of our passengers are out to dinner or at a theme park or doing something where they can not hear the phone or do not have service. So we could make dozens of calls all night and not get a hold of some people. The record is 38 phone calls to get a hold of 9 sets of passengers... So... YOU CALL US!! We are always here and you know when you are available to make a call.
A. No! If you have access to the internet we post things on the calendar!
If we know for sure that the weather is going to be bad we will post weather alerts on the our TA Calendar! You can click on the weather alert and a pop up message will appear telling you what the alert is. Then you can send us an email telling us you have read the alert!
Ain't this internet thingy great!!!
- Adult Fare $250.00 per Person (Adult)
The burner on the balloon will frighten very small children. Please see information on the FAQ page.
- When booking more than 2(two) adults in a group a $5 discount will be applied to each passenger. To receive the group discount the entire party shall be charged on one card.
NOTE: These are not private flights! You may have other people with you in the balloon depending on the number of people in your party. Private flights are available.
To book your flight you will need a credit card to reserve your spots. No charges will be made until after the flight. After the flight we will ask you how you would like to pay for your flight. Here is a link to our cancellation policy page.
A. We accept all forms of payment. We will take Cash, Travelers checks, Master Card, Discover, Visa, and on a rare occasion first born.
A. We are sure without a doubt you will LOVE IT !!!
But don't take our word for it, Have a look at what previous passengers have said. Click here to go to the Guest Book
A. We meet just a few miles west of the main entrance to Disney World. On Highway 192 there are nearly 150 hotels to choose from. Just do a google search for the Disney Maingate area and then choose an hotel of your liking. Please do not ask us to recommend a place to stay. Remember WE LIVE HERE, we do not stay in hotels here, but I know a nice Red Roof hotel in Phoenix AZ.
A. If you go to the bottom of the calendar you will see the calendar legend. The legend explains all of the colors and notations we use on the calendar. The legend looks something like this.
Q. Can I put stuff on the Calendar?
A. No. We are the only ones who can put stuff on the calendar. If you would like something put on the calendar please send us a note or call and we will see if we can help.
A. Our balloons are equipped with SEATS!
They may ride sitting down and enjoy the whole flight. We are one of the very few balloon ride operations that do have seats. The seats are great for kids too! Kids can sit on their knees and see over the side of the basket in safety and comfort. We do want to know if you have someone in your party who has a hard time standing or is in a wheelchair since there are other considerations we must take into account in preparation for your flight.
Please inform us in advance if you have anyone who's mobility is restricted in any way.
Unfortunately the FAA requires us to be able to lock a door between the passengers consuming alcohol and the pilot operation the aircraft. A balloon basket does not have doors. But I promise you will survive the flight with out the champagne and we will serve you champagne as soon as we get back to mother earth.
A. Have no worry. A Balloon simply can not cause Motion Sickness. The hot air balloon moves so slowly that there is no sensation of motion at all. Seriously if you had your eyes closed you would never know you were moving at all. In 35 years of flying we have never had anyone get motion sick. The balloon floats. Imagine you were in a canoe floating down a river. You feel like your sitting still but you can see by the banks of the river that you are indeed moving. A balloon floats with the wind and moves smoothly up and down. Truly a float and no feel of motion at all.
In a hot air balloon we burn propane to create the heat to fly the balloon. The same propane you use in your Bar-B-Q grill at home. No one ever worries about the fumes from the grill. Propane is one of the (if not THE) cleanest fuels we have. Propane burns 99.7% clean. No residue no fumes no nothing. If it did create fumes our balloons would look horrible after a few flights yet after years of use there is no build up of anything. think of it this way, If you left your Bar-B-Q grill on by accident you could sit near it and not even know it was on unless you felt the heat from it. There are, No fumes from the balloon burners at all.
A. There are three things that cause people to be afraid of heights and NONE of them happen in a balloon.
First natural fear is motion, that butterfly in the stomach feel like you have in an elevator or on a Ferris wheel. The balloon is so large and moves so slowly there is no sensation of motion at all! If you had your eyes closed you would never know you had left the ground.
Second is the fear of falling. This is like when you are on a ladder or the edge of the roof where you know if you make one wrong step you are going to hurt yourself. This is also referred to as Impending Peril. The sides of the balloon basket are high enough that you would have a hard time jumping out let alone falling out so that fear does not happen.
The LAST one is centrifugal force. The earth is a spinning object and the farther away you get the faster you spin. Some people have such a sensitive inner ear (Balance) that when they go up in a high place they feel like they are going to fall. This is because they are spinning faster and their balance is being thrown off. We have all heard someone say "I don't need to go near the edge or look out the window just being up here makes me feel funny" That's because looking out is not the problem. They are spinning faster and their inner ear has not become accustom to it. In a balloon we are no longer attached to the spinning object. In a balloon you actually spin LESS than if you had stayed on the ground! This disarms the inner ear.
IN OVER 40 YEARS OF FLYING OVER 6,000 FLIGHTS, I have never had to land and let someone out!
Thank you for taking the time to read this information. Hopefully you have found the answers you were after. If there is some question that is not answered here (Within Reason) please let us know so we can post a response for others.