Review – Full of Hot Air: A Tethered Balloon Ride at Callaway Gardens

Full of Hot Air: A Tethered Balloon Ride at Callaway Gardens

By Stephanie Litz

MuscogeeMoms staff writer Stephanie Litz and her daughters Ashley (9) and Emily (7) had the opportunity to experience a tethered balloon ride early Friday morning at Callaway Gardens.

If you’ve never been up in a hot air balloon, it’s quite the experience. Hot air balloons are relatively quiet, only interrupted now and again by the propane burners pumping hot air into the balloon’s envelope. This weekend, nineteen hot air balloons from across the country will line Robin Lake Beach and the adjacent field on the grounds of Callaway Gardens next to Hwy. 27 in Pine Mountain, Georgia.

For inflation, the balloon is spread out on the ground with the basket on its side, and while the mouth of the balloon is held open by crew members, a large fan is used to blow air into the envelope. Since the envelope is so light, the balloon can be almost entirely filled with air by the fan. Once the balloon is almost full of air, the pilot will ignite the burner and heat the air. Both basket and envelope rise into an upright position as the air is heated.


This was Ashley and Emily’s first time in a hot air balloon.  They were comfortable with the idea that the balloon was tied down.  Stephanie, the girls, and the balloon pilot all fit in the basket with room for one more adult. Adults are expected to be able to climb into the basket while children can be lifted over and down into the basket. During your ride you’ll have the chance to survey the area, chat with the pilot and ask questions.

Did you know?

Best time fly:

Balloons are flown in early morning or late afternoon because winds are usually calmest for 2 to 3 hours after sunrise, and 2 to 4 hours before sunset. Mid-day flights are rare due to wind and thermal activity. Please keep this in mind if you’re considering making the most of the balloon festival. Tethered balloon rides are available, wind turbulence and weather conditions permitting.

Whatcha got in that thing?

The fuel is liquid propane gas, the same gas used in an outdoor barbecue grill. Propane is environmentally-friendly, as it is clean burning, producing only water vapor and carbon dioxide.

Balloon pilots know their stuff!

In the United States, a pilot of a hot air balloon must have a pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Saturday is filled with family-friendly events, including live music, beach activities, a Kids Zone and much more. There’s something for everyone with a classic car show, disc dog demonstrations, a pyrotechnic skydiving demonstration, as well as a 5K Race and Triathlon event. If you’re a photography buff, you can sign up for our hands-on “Mastering Night Photography” course.

Plus, you’ll find drink specials and sports on the televisions at the Beach Bar as well as some of Atlanta’s top-rated food trucks throughout the festival. Cap off the weekend with a final balloon glow Sunday night on Robin Lake Beach. With this exciting line-up of events, surrounded by the natural beauty of Callaway Gardens, there’s no better way to say “farewell” to Summer.

Tethered rides are $10 per adult and $5 per child. 

2014 Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival

2015 Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival

Photo Credits: Stephanie Litz

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