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WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest offers tethered rides

Posted May 13, 2015
Updated May 14, 2015

Ever wanted to go up in a hot air balloon? Well, you can take a tethered ride at the WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest next weekend.

Tethered rides will be available at Bennett Bunn Plantation in Zebulon and Spring Forest Road Park in Raleigh on Saturday, May 23, and Sunday, May 24, starting at 3 p.m.

Tethered rides mean the balloon will be anchored to the ground, limiting your ride to about 30 to 40 feet high. All rides are weather and wind permitting.

Rides are $20 per adult and $14 for children ages 3 to 12 years old. Children aged 2 and under fly for free. Pilots will be accepting cash only and a portion of the proceeds will benefit the Raleigh Jaycees.

Details about tethered rides:

  • Rides normally last 4 to 5 minutes.
  • No Advanced ticket sales. Cash only.
  • Rides are available first come, first served.
  • Children under 42 inches tall may not ride without a parent or guardian.
  • Sometimes small children can be frightened by the burners and might not enjoy the experience.
  • There are a limited number of rides available for each night. Demand is expected to be high at Spring Forest Road Park and Bennett Bunn Plantation, so plan to arrive early.
  • Participants should be in generally good physical condition. Passengers must have the ability to climb over side of the basket since they are not equipped with doors. Some baskets with higher sides have step holes to help you get in and out.
  • Passenger weight is limited to 275 pounds per person
  • Do NOT RIDE if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.
  • Rides are not recommended for anyone who has had recent surgery, or have a medical condition that leaves them in a weakened state.
  • Wear comfortable shoes, you might have to walk several hundred feet to the balloon.
  • Typically balloons can carry 2 to 3 people at a time. Larger groups of riders will likely be split up over multiple lifts or balloons.
  • The size of the balloon, weight of passengers, and the air temperature determine how many people can be lifted at a time.

If you plan to take a tethered ride, fill out, sign and then print a release and waiver liability to bring with you. Passengers under 18 must have a parent or legal guardian sign the waiver on their behalf.

Balloon Flights

If you want to take a balloon flight without the tethers, you can do that as well. A limited number of flights are available throughout the weekend. These rides must be booked in advance. Flights are $300 per person. The price includes a $50 per person non-transferable booking deposit.

Flights will take place at Bennett Bunn Plantation in Zebulon on on the afternoon of Friday, May 22, and Saturday, Sunday and Monday (May 23-25) mornings.

Here is some info about balloon flights:

  • Hot air ballooning is an outdoor activity with inherent risk of serious injury or even death. It is important that you understand the risks associated with hot air ballooning before, during and after the flight. Before booking a flight, read the Waiver of Liability for important information about the risk of riding in a hot air balloon.
  • The pilot-in-command of each balloon is the sole decision maker about whether or not to fly. The pilot-in-command of the balloon is solely responsible for the safe operation of the flight. The organizers of the festival provide booking and organization assistance of certain flight activities as a convenience to the pilots, crew, sponsors and passengers.
  • Hot air balloons only fly the first two hours after sunrise and the last two hours before sunset. Winds are less stable during the middle of the day.
  • Do NOT fly in a hot air balloon if you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant.
  • Passenger weight matters. Individual passengers should weigh less than 275 pounds.
  • The total weight of the passengers is important. The hotter the weather, the less weight the hot air balloon can carry in a given balloon.
  • You should be in reasonably good health. If you've had surgery (especially orthopedic related procedures), you should wait to heal - typically one year after your doctor has cleared you for more strenuous activities.You should ask yourself the question, "If I were to jump from the top of your kitchen chair to the floor, would I hurt myself?" If the answer to this question is "yes" it is very likely that hot air ballooning is not for you. If you use a walker or a cane, do not book a balloon flight.
  • Children. Some pilots will not fly passengers under 18 years old. The festival strongly recommends offering children under 16 a Tethered Ride experience rather than a Balloon Flight.
  • Be prepared for an outdoor adventure. Dress accordingly - good walking shoes, natural fiber clothing, and long pants are strongly recommended. Unlike flying in a fixed wing plane or helicopter, hot air balloons often do not take off or land at airports. More likely, you'll find yourself in the midst of a beautiful country or suburban setting. Layers are a good idea for morning flights.
  • Freedom Balloon Fest organizers require each passenger read and sign a Waiver & Release of Liability. Be sure to read and understand it carefully. Your pilot will also ask you to read and sign an additional Waiver & Release of Liability.
  • Ask your pilot for a briefing about your flight, and listen carefully.

For more information and to book a flight, check out the WRAL Freedom Balloon Fest website.


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