What about safety?
Safety is absolutely our number one priority. We are very proud to have a 100% safety record. All of our pilots have extensive aviation experience and are members of the Balloon Federation of America. We welcome any questions regarding safety or any other aspect of ballooning.
What does the adventure package include?
The Adventure Package includes: transportation to and from the launching and landing sites in our vehicle; the flight itself, which lasts about 45 minutes to an hour; a short history of ballooning which leads up to a very traditional champagne toast; then we treat our passengers to a full sit-down breakfast (anything on the menu) at Mimi's Cafe.
What does the Sweetheart (private) flight include?
Our Sweetheart or Private flight includes everything that the Adventure Package offers and also guarantees that you will be the only two passengers flying with the pilot that morning. We generally do not suggest this option unless you are planning something intensely personal such as proposing or scattering ashes.
How high do we fly?
We generally fly from treetop to 1000 feet. Soaring at 1000 feet guests usually view the skyline of the city of Tampa, Tampa Bay and often the Gulf of Mexico. At lower altitudes deer, turkey, fox and other wildlife are often spotted in the woodland areas.
Is it colder during the flight?
There is technically a three degree Fahrenheit temperature change (colder) per 1000 feet, but usually there is a small temperature inversion, therefore if guests are dressed comfortably for the temperature at ground level they will be comfortable during the flight. Guest usually dress casually and layer clothing if the weather is chilly. We suggest that guests wear hats, sun glasses, and sneakers or hiking boots. Opened toed shoes are discouraged.
Are the pilots certified?
All Pilots are FAA certified, with a Commercial Rating for Lighter-Than-Air, Free Balloon with airborne heater.
What weather conditions do you fly in?
The decision to fly is made by the Pilot-in-Command. Generally, we will not launch with surface winds in excess of seven miles per hour. We will not fly in any unstable weather conditions.
What if the weather is bad on the morning of the flight?
If the weather does not cooperate and we are forced to postpone the flight,we will reschedule at the guests convenience, based on availability.
How long is the adventure?
Each of our events lasts approximately three and one-half hours. Guests witness the balloon’s inflation, fly for approximately one hour, share in the 200 year-old tradition of a complimentary champagne toast and enjoy a hot brunch.
What is included in the brunch and when is it served?
Following the flight, guests will have their choice of beverages and breakfast, brunch or lunch entrees; all served by Mimi's Cafe. From Eggs Benedict to the best pancakes you have ever eaten, your brunch will be highly pleasing.
Is historic information available?
After we pack the balloon away at the landing field, the pilot gives a brief history of ballooning as part of the traditional champagne toast. Depending upon the guest's interests, our seasoned crewmembers are well informed and always available to answer questions.
How large are the balloons?
Balloons can be different sizes, ours range from 120,000 cubic feet to 210,000 cubic feet in size. The balloons inflate to between six and eight stories tall in approximately 15-20 minutes. Guests are thrilled with the spectacle of the balloon's inflation and are encouraged to participate.
How many passengers can fly in the balloons?
Our smaller balloon carries up to four passengers plus the FAA certified pilot. It inflates to 6 1/2 stories high in approximately 15 minutes. The larger balloon is the LARGEST balloon in west-central Florida and carries 8-10 passengers. It is absolutely state of the art. It was designed for passenger comfort and each couple has their own compartment. This balloon inflates to 8 1/2 stories high in approximately 20 minutes. Private, two passenger flights or "sweetheart flights" are available for an additional charge. See Pricing page.
Are the compartments in the larger balloon enclosed?
The large balloon is an open air partitioned basket. Everyone has a full view.
How does the ground crew know where the balloon is going?
The chase crew is in radio contact with the pilot at all times and follows the balloon while you are in flight. The chase crew is well briefed and seasoned.
Where and when do we meet?
We meet approximately one hour before sunrise, which is between 5:30 and 6:30 am depending upon the time of year. Meeting times, along with the weather, are always confirmed in the evening, the day before the flight. Arriving on time is very important, late arrival may jeopardize your flight. Flights are available seven days a week. Our guests meet us at Mimi’s Café, 11702 N. Dale Mabry Hwy. See Map of Meeting Place. From there we transport our guests to one of about 20 different launch sites. The pilot chooses the launch site based upon wind direction and wind speed on the morning of the flight.
How long has Big Red Balloon been in business?
It has been Gods will that Big Red Balloon Sightseeing Adventures would serve the Tampa Bay area continuously since 1992. We are investors in the Tampa Hillsborough Convention and Visitors Association and Members of the Balloon Federation of America. We are the oldest and largest ride operator in West Central Florida. We have an excellent reputation and place a high value on our business ethics and integrity.
Do you need to make reservations?
Yes. Reservations are required.
Can we bring cameras?
Guest are more than welcome to bring cameras on the flight, however we do not accept responsibility for personal belongings.