Practice Approaches

Approaching from a relatively high altitude, with a high descent rate, down to a soft landing, is a very good maneuver to practice. This is used when landing over an obstacle when maneuvering to your selected field is only possible from a higher than desired altitude. This maneuver can also be used when, due to inattention or distractions, you find yourself at a relatively high altitude approaching the last appropriate landing site. Practicing this type of approach should take place in an uninhabited area, and the obstacle should be a simulated obstacle.

A drop in landing or steep approach to landing is another good maneuver to practice. Being able to perform this maneuver can get you into that perfect field that is just beyond the trees, or just the other side of the orchard. Being able to drop quickly, but softly, into the fallow field between crops is more neighborly than making a low approach over the orchard. Being able to avoid frightening cattle or other animals during an approach is a valuable skill.

Having the skills to predict your track during the landing approach, touching down on your landing target, and stopping the balloon basket in the preferred place, can be very satisfying. It requires a sharp eye trained to spotting the indicators of wind direction on the ground. Dropping bits of tissue, observing other balloons, smoke, steam, dust, and tree movement are all ways to predict the balloon track on its way to the landing site. Your most important observation is watching for powerlines.

A good approach usually earns a good landing. In ballooning, approaches can be practiced more often than landings.

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