This is something I wanted to do as a kid!! It meant getting up at 5am though.
Our bus picked us up at 520 in the morning, and took us not far away just outside the town. Setting up a hot air balloon looks like quite a complex process. There is a ground crew who bring along the balloon and the basket on a pick up and trailer along with ropes and tools. To get started up, the basket must be be on its side with the gas burners fired to start getting the balloon inflated.
After chatting to the other passengers and momentarily looking away from the ground, I realised we got really high! The pilot says if we go higher than this we would need oxygen.
The basket has five compartments and can hold 24 people, like a boat, people shouldn’t move around during flight, therefore the pilot stands in the middle (in front of me) and there are two separate sections either side of the middle and thus people are loaded into different sides evenly. You are trained to a ‘brace’ position, which involves crouching down and holding onto some ropes to minimise the possibility of injury in case of a sudden descent or collision with something. The pilot did play a bit of a game of chicken by going between some tall rocks and trees when we first took off!!
I made friends with a Korean who spoke no English but we mutually wanted to get pictures of each other through Facebook.
Some of the ropes I think operate a kind of rudder to allow some degree of steering. This balloon was built in Bristol, and I asked our pilot how he got his licence for flying. He told me the Turks have to go to England or US to do this, although he is actually Egyptian. I notice as well as four burners with a throttle lever on each of them, there are actually 5 gas tanks, which are marked ‘for ballooning only’ appears one is a spare.
Once down on the ground again, we had a glass of champagne (fizzy apple juice I think as many of others flying with us were local Turks who were religious Muslims) and got a certificate to take home.
This was a truly unforgettable day. At 100-150 Euros a go for about 1-1.5 hour session ballooning isn’t cheap but its an experience I’d recommend do at least once, especially in the spectacular unique landscape of Cappadocia Turkey. Since the first company who originally set up shop doing this, this has become super popular, so there is at least a dozen balloon operators in Cappadocia, so it pays to shop around as booking can be done direct, through a travel agent in Goereme high street or via the place you are staying. Be warned, that they won’t fly in windy weather so there is a risk your trip could get cancelled so it pays to plan to fly at the beginning of your stay in Cappadocia, if wind is unfavourable you can maybe do it a day or to later.