Prior to landing, you should explain correct posture
and procedure to the passengers. Many balloon
landings are gentle, stand-up landings. However,
always prepare your passengers for the possibility of
a hard impact. Instruct passengers to do the following.
- Stand in the appropriate area of the basket.
- Face the direction of travel.
- Place feet and knees together, with knees bent.
- Hold on tight in two places.
- Stay in the basket.
Stand in the appropriate area of the basket
Passengers and pilot should position themselves
toward the rear of the basket. This accomplishes three
- The leading edge of the basket is lifted as the
floor tilts from the occupant weight shift, so the basket
is less likely to dig into the ground and make a
- With the occupants in the rear of the basket
and the floor tilted, the basket is more likely to slide
along the ground and lose some speed before tipping.
- The passengers are less likely to fall out of the
front of the basket.
In a high-wind landing, passengers should stand in
the front of the basket. The reason for this is so that,
when the basket makes surface contact and tips over,
passengers will fall a shorter distance and will not
be pitched forward. They will be more likely to remain
in the basket, minimizing the risk of injury.
Face the Direction of Travel
Feet, hips, and shoulders should be perpendicular to
the direction of flight. Impact with the ground while
facing to the side puts a sideways strain on the knees
and hips, which do not naturally bend that way. Facing
the opposite direction is more appropriate under
Place feet and knees together, with knees bent
To some people this may not seem to be a natural
ready position; however, it is very appropriate to
ballooning. The feet and knees together stance allows
maximum flexibility. With the knees bent, one can use the legs as springs or shock absorbers in all four
directions. With the feet apart, sideways flexibility is
limited and knees do not like being bent to the side.
With legs apart fore and aft, one foot in front of the
other, there is the possibility of doing the splits and a
likelihood of locking the front knee. Avoid using the
word brace as in brace yourselves; it sounds as if
knees should be locked or muscles tensed. Legs should
be flexible and springy at landing impact.
Hold on tight in two places
This is probably the least followed of the landing
instructions. Up to this point, the typical balloon flight
has been relatively gentle and most passengers do
not realize the shock that can occur when a 7,000-
pound balloon contacts the ground. Urge your
passengers to hold on tight. You should advise your
passengers of correct places to hold on, whether they
are factory-built passenger handles, or places in your
basket you consider appropriate. The pilot must obey
his or her own directions and also hold on firmly.
Stay in the basket
Some passengers, believing the flight is over as soon
as the basket makes contact with the ground, will start
to get out. Even a small amount of wind may cause
the basket to bounce and slide after initial touchdown.
If a 200-pound passenger decides to exit the basket at
this point, the balloon will immediately begin to
ascend. Everybody, including the pilot, should stay in
the basket until it stops moving.
Monitoring of passengers is important because, after
the balloon first touches down, passengers may forget
everything they have been told. A typical response is
for the passenger to place one foot in front of the other
and lock the knee. This is a very bad position as the
locked knee is unstable and subject to damage. Pilots
should observe their passengers and order “feet
together,” “front (back) of the basket,” “knees bent,”
“hold on tight,” and “do not get out until I tell you!”
The pilot should be a good example to passengers
by assuming the correct landing position.
Otherwise, passengers may think, “If the pilot does
not do it, why should we.”
It is very important that the passenger briefing be
given more than once. Some balloon ride companies send an agreement to their passengers
in advance, which includes the landing instructions.
Passengers are asked to sign a statement that they
have reviewed, read, and understand the landing
procedure. Many pilots give passengers a briefing
and landing stance demonstration on the ground
before the flight. This briefing should be given again
as soon as the pilot has decided to land.
The pilot is very busy during the landing watching
the passenger’s actions and reactions, closing fuel
valves, draining fuel lines, cooling the burners, and
deflating the envelope. The better the passengers
understand the importance of the landing procedure,
the better the pilot will perform these duties and
make a safe landing.