It’s not the same as sitting in an aircraft and watching a canopy of clouds at a height of 40,000 feet or more. It’s not the same as getting strapped to a hang glider and feeling like a bird. Here, it’s a smooth ride at about 4,000 feet above the ground, leisurely taking in the unfolding scenario on earth below and letting a most heavenly sensation envelope you. Hot air ballooning is now the latest craze among those willing to side-step from the beaten track of just plain tourism and try out something entirely new and refreshing.
Ever wondered what does a bird feel and see when it takes to the skies and watches the ground beneath it pass by? In fact, it is this perennial desire among humans to fly that led to the birth of the airplane. Since then there have evolved various other modes of air-borne transport, both for travel and joy, which have given us the same pleasure as what must be experienced by those with wings. And one of these is the hot air balloon. Even the mere sight of a hot air balloon sends a tingle down the spine for the kind of adventure that it represents.
Imagine then taking off in a hot air balloon at an early hour in the morning and then absorbing a truly picturesque and breathtaking vista of green fields; tiny hamlets with smoke curling upwards through the rough-hewn chimneys or chullahs of the huts; people going about their work; small and big roads snaking their way through the hills and into the towns; patchy clouds drifting alongside or below you; the sun peeping out in the horizon and ready for yet another day of warming up the earth; a river or two reflecting the images of the sky; boats moving languidly in the shallow waters or anchored near the river banks…..and much more. All this is no longer limited to the movies. It’s an experience you can avail of with ease thanks to hot air ballooning now becoming one of the most sought after thrills in Maharashtra.
A Professional Service
Sky Waltz is the first company in India to be licensed by the Ministry of Civil Aviation to operate hot air balloons on a commercial basis throughout India. Operating as part of E-Factor Adventure Tourism, the company has been offering this facility in Rajasthan and also at many other locations throughout India since 2008 and has had over 25,000 passengers experience the unique adventure of a hot air balloon flight. It has now brought this to Lonavala in Maharashtra in association with Rainbow Riders and since its launch in October 2013 the company claims to already have had more than 1000 guests enjoy the ride.
Operating under international standards of safety and security, Sky Waltz has been recognised with the prestigious ‘Most Innovative Tourism Product Award’, presented as part of the Indian government’s national tourism awards. “One of our proudest moments here was when VijaypatSinghania (73) of the Raymond Group, who is a world record holder of the hot air balloon for reaching a height of 69,852 feet, came on board with us on January 11, 2014. He was very happy with our operations and confirmed the activity to be very safe and as per international standards,” informs a spokesperson of Sky Waltz.
Interestingly, the hot air balloon experience is now no longer limited to those seeking a quick adrenaline rush. It is becoming increasing popular as a ‘gift’ experience; a tethering activity for schools and wedding functions; creating advertising opportunities; and corporate engagement programs.
The best part about a hot air balloon safari is that you get a 360-degree panoramic view of the entire landscape around, beneath and above you. There’s no need to book a window ticket! Also, an experienced pilot knows exactly how to rotate the balloon so that you have a fascinating view of all the sides. The main flying season is from mid-October to end of April and the safari is usually conducted within two hours of dawn and about two hours before dusk since the wind conditions are most stable then. The safari is safe for all but those with major ailments or who have undergone recent surgeries may do well to take their doctor’s advice.
Sky Waltz offers the facility of pick up and drop from the client’s from a common point in Kamshet or Lonavala. This is followed by some a short safety briefing given by the pilot along with tea/coffee and light refreshments served at the launch site. The participants can, in the meanwhile, watch the balloon being inflated and the crew testing the wind speed and direction. The duration of the flight is normally of 60 minutes (+-15 minutes) depending on the weather conditions. Post the flight and successful landing of the balloon, a First Flight Certificate is given to the participant who may also wish to spend some time in the village where the balloon has landed to interact with the locals and take pictures, etc.
CustomisedCharter Flights, breakfast packages and other F&B services can be requested at an additional cost. The onboard service includes packaged drinking water. The cost per safari is Rs 12,000 for adults and Rs 6,000 for children between 5 and 12 years of age.
Know Your Balloon
It was on November 21, 1783, in Paris that the first untethered manned flight was undertaken by Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent d’Arlandes in a hot air balloon created on December 14, 1782 by the Montgolfier brothers. A hot air balloon consists of a bag called the envelope that is capable of containing heated air. Suspended beneath is a gondola or wicker basket (in some long-distance or high-altitude balloons, a capsule), which carries passengers and usually a source of heat, in most cases an open flame.
The heated air inside the envelope makes it buoyant since it has a lower density than the relatively cold air outside the envelope. As with all aircraft, hot air balloons cannot fly beyond the atmosphere. Unlike gas balloons, the envelope does not have to be sealed at the bottom since the air near the bottom of the envelope is at the same pressure as the air surrounding it. For modern sport balloons the envelope is generally made from nylon fabric and the inlet of the balloon (closest to the burner flame) is made from fire resistant material such as Nomex.
Sangram Pawar: Business Head, Maharashtra.
Cell: 9822988800 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org| Website: www.skywaltz.com.