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Frequently Asked Questions:

Why was the Colorado Balloon Classic originally created? 
Originally created to occur along side the Pikes Peak Hill Climb.  Because of its success and tourism attraction, moved to downtown in Memorial Park for the Labor Day weekend at the request of the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau.

What kinds of events and activities are there during the Colorado Balloon Classic weekend?
Balloon rides, crewing on the balloons, Coloring Contest, Photo Contest, food, merchandise, children's play area, Official Souvenirs, "Balloon Mail" and a children's reading program.

What is the Balloon Glo©?
The hot air balloons are filled with air at nightfall but do not launch.  They glow huge and beautiful against the evening sky.

Will the Colorado Balloon Classic always be free to the public? 
Patsy Buchwald, President and CEO of the Colorado Balloon Classic, the Staff and Committee are committed to the event remaining a free community and family entertainment event. 
What kinds of volunteer opportunities are available at the Colorado Balloon Classic?
Volunteers are needed and always welcomed in all aspects of the Colorado Balloon Classic: administrative, distributing posters prior to event, field set up and take down for the event, distributing photo contest photos at the event, crewing on the balloons.  Call 719-471-4833 or visit the website at to sign up.

Why is the event by invitation only for balloonists? 
The Colorado Balloon Classic wants to insure that balloonists are the best, safest and most fascinating in the world. 

How can my non-profit organization get involved?
By contacting Patsy Buchwald at 719-471-4833.  The Colorado Balloon Classic will work with your group in an attempt to design a fundraiser for your group.

What are balloons made of?
The envelope, the "balloon or colorful part", is made of reinforced heat resistant rip-stop nylon fabric.  It is very lightweight yet very strong.  The fabric is coated on the inside to help contain the heat.  The fabric around the lower opening (called the mouth) of the balloon is usually made from a fire resistant material like Nomex, similar to the suits that firefighters wear.  The basket (sometimes called the "gondola") is made from wicker rattan and each basket is coated inside and out with a finishing urethane and is individually woven by hand.

How big are hot air balloons?
Balloons come in many sizes and just about every shape you can imagine!  The average balloon ranges in size from 65,000 to 105,000 cubic feet in volume and stands around 8-10 stories tall!

How do you steer a balloon and how fast does it go?
The balloon goes where the wind takes it.  However, winds blow in different directions at different altitudes.  The pilot will have the balloon ascend or descend to find a wind blowing in the direction he/she wants to go.  Balloons go as fast, or as slow, as the wind.

How high do balloons fly?
Most balloon flights occur between 500 and 1,000 feet above the ground, but balloons can fly just above the ground or go much higher.  The world record for altitude in a hot air balloon is 64,997 feet.

How do the balloons get back to where they launched?
All balloons require a "chase crew" to help inflate and, as they are appropriately called, "chase" the balloon in a recovery vehicle by following as closely as they can, the route of the balloon during flight.  Once the balloon lands, the chase crew helps pack up the balloon.

Is a pilot's license required to fly a balloon?
Yes.  There are three levels of balloon pilot ratings.  The first is a Student Pilot.  The second is a private pilot. The pilot must have at least 10 hours of flight time in a hot air balloon, which must include six flights under the supervision of an instructor.  The private pilot must pass a written test, oral test and flight check prior to being issued a private pilot's license.  The third rating is a commercial pilot.  The commercial pilot must have at least 35 hours of flight time in hot air balloons.  The commercial pilot must pass an additional written, oral and flight check prior to being issued a commercial pilot's license.  The holder of a commercial pilot's license may operate a balloon for hire and may give flight instruction.  (For additional requirements on both ratings, please consult FAA Regulation Part 61 for details.)

Do balloons fly at night?
Yes.   FAA requires the balloon to be equipped with marker lights like airplanes.  The biggest problem presented by night flying is not being able to see obstacles on the ground during the landing.  Most pilots who fly at night will launch an hour or so prior to sunrise so they have the pre-dawn light to help in landing.  As a precautionary measure, very powerful flood/spot lights are also used in case of a landing in the dark.

How many people can ride in a hot air balloon?
Most balloons will carry from 2 to 4 passengers, but there are large commercial passenger carrying balloons with the capacity to carry up to 30 passengers.

Do passengers ever get airsick?
No.  There is no sensation of motion in a balloon.

What if I don't like heights?
There is none of the vertigo feeling because you are moving with the wind drift, there is no wind blowing.  The basket does not rock or sway, so there's no fear of falling.

How can I be involved without buying a balloon or becoming a pilot?
Many people start in ballooning as a crew person.  In most areas, you can join a local club.  The local club is the Ballooning Society of Pikes Peak,  You can also check the local yellow pages for balloonists in your area and offer your services, or the next time you see a balloon flying in your area, follow it and offer to help when it lands.

Where can I learn more about the history of hot air ballooning? 
To learn more about the history of ballooning click here.

Noted Dates in Ballooning:

Spectator Tips for the Colorado Balloon Classic

Please enjoy the Colorado Balloon Classic – we love having you at the event

"Balloonists Prayer"
The winds have welcomed you with softness
The sun has held you in his warm hands
You have flown so high and so well
That God has joined you in your laughter
And set you gently back down
Into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

"The Balloon Crew's Prayer"
The winds have cursed us like a cyclone.
the sun has scorched and parched us.
We have chased our pilot through
Mother Earth's maze and
God has laughed at us
As we have climbed barbed wire
To retrieve our Captain
in a field of thistles and ditches.
We pray there is cold beer waiting.
-Author Unknown