Landing Procedure Variations

Landing in tall bushes or trees requires that everyone turn around and face the rear to protect their faces and eyes from branches and twigs. All the other elements of the standard briefing remain the same.

Landing on a very steep side of a hill or side approach to a cliff requires that everybody get lower in the basket to avoid being tipped-out when the basket floor becomes parallel to the hillside or cliff. In a sidehill or downhill landing, being tippedout of the basket becomes more likely.

Landing in water requires modification to the passenger briefing. In a ditching, make sure the passengers get clear of the basket in case it inverts due to fuel tank placement. Advise the passengers to keep a strong grip on the basket because it becomes a flotation device. Predicting the final disposition of the basket in water is difficult. If the envelope is deflated, you can expect the envelope to sink, as it is heavier than water. Fuel tanks will float because they are lighter than water, even when full. If the envelope retains air, and depending on fuel-tank configuration, the balloon may come to rest, at least for a while, on its side.

In general, a rattan basket offers protection, except in water, and everybody should stay inside the basket.

High-wind Landing

As soon as you know, explain to your passengers that a high-wind landing will follow. It is better to alert them than to allow them to be too casual. Brief your passengers on the correct posture and procedure for a high-wind landing, to include wearing gloves and helmets, if available or required.

Fly at the lowest safe altitude to a large field. Check that the deflation line is clear and ready. Avoid all obstacles, and make a low approach to the near edge of the field. When committed to the landing, brief passengers again, turn off fuel valves, drain fuel lines, and turn off pilot lights.

Depending on the landing speed and surface, open the deflation vent at the appropriate time to control ground travel. Monitor your passengers, making sure they are properly positioned in the basket and holding on tightly.

Deflate the envelope and monitor it until all the air is exhausted. Be alert for fire, check your passengers, and prepare for recovery.

Landing Considerations

When selecting a landing site, three considerations, in order of importance, are safety of passengers, and persons and property on the ground; landowner relations; and ease of recovery.

Following are some questions you should ask when evaluating a landing site.

  • Is it a safe place for my passengers and the balloon?
  • Would my landing create any hazard for any person or property on the ground?
  • Will my presence create any problems (noise, startling animals, etc.) for the landowner?

The last and least important consideration is recovery. Many pilots rank ease of recovery too high, and create enemies of landowners and residents. Convenience for the pilot and crew are less important than other considerations, which have longer-lasting effects.

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