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
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
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
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.
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
- 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.