Ballooning is characterized by two statements:
- Ballooning is the oldest and safest kind of aviation, and
- Ballooning is very depending on weather conditions.
To keep ballooning the most safe kind of air transport it is important to face the weather conditions before each flight. There are many sites to be used for the preparation of a balloonflight like weather.com, meteoblue.com, Google, windfinder.com. But our very experienced pilots use as professionals the aviation weather forecasts of the airports Al Maktoum, DXB and Al Ain.
These mentioned aviation weather forecasts are in code but professional pilots like ours are able to read them very well and give a good interpretation of it. The aviation weather forecasts are called “taf” and can be found via Google. Inserting the words “DWC taf” you will find the weather forecast of Al Maktoum International Airport.
To give you an example of this taf: OMDW, 101656Z 1018/1200 09005KT CAVOK BECMG 1104/1106 18012KT means that the wind now is from the east (090) with 5 knots and will become tomorrow 12 knots from the south (180).
There is another important issue that you know. The General Civil Aviation authority GCAA which controls all aviation has initiated rules for balloon flights. One important law is that balloons shall not take off in winds that exceed 8 knots, which is 14.8 kms/hr. A pilot who starts with a surface wind that is exceeding these 8 knots brings his passengers in a dangerous situation, and commits a crime.
We at Sindbad Balloons are fully aware of your disappointment when we cancel a flight due to the wind, but for us is only one starting point important: SAFETY FIRST. And our professional pilots avoid any unlawful situation.
In case of too windy situations we prefer to cancel the flight as early as possible but there might arise a circumstance that the forecast is pretty optimistic while the actual situation on the launch field is worse and we have to cancel the flight when the passengers are already on the starting point in the desert. This occasion happens only a very few times in a year. Again, we regret that and we understand the disappointment of the passengers.
Also rain or the heavy threat of showers can be the reason for cancelling a flight.
Erik H. Bosman,
Director Operations of Sindbad Gulf Balloons.