Comments: 85 • Responses: 21  • Date: 

ultra-saurus14 karma

How many marriage proposals have you awkwardly, and inadvertently been around? Anyone say no, and thus making the entire trip a bust?

adamchikas23 karma

I've witnessed a total of 3 marriage proposals in my basket. And one of them wasn't quite succesful. It was a very nice couple of two students most probably, she was slightly out of his league. Long story short she said 'I don't know'. It was pretty awkward at first but we landed in a super nice neighbourhood. Local people invited us for breakfast and they shared their morning wine with us. So I didn't find it awkward anymore, but felt really sorry for the guy who proposed.

Leelluu23 karma

Wait, you just flew into a neighborhood on a hot air balloon and people invited you in for breakfast? What land is this?

spidersnake5 karma

This one.

I kid, but I love that clip.

ThePhjl1 karma

Turns out that the land of make believe is Lithuania. Who would've though it?

adamchikas2 karma

Oh it is far from fairy tale land. This is a rare thing to be welcomed by locals on the ground here in this way, this is why I remember this flight so well (and the unsuccesful marriage proposal as well). Some people are grumpy when they see balloons, they want to feel superior on their land, as we never make any harm for their property. Ok, I have scared some cows and horses during my career, and landed on growing field once and that's it. Paid to enter their private land more often than once. Luckily never got into a fight with locals. Like in any other country there are people and then there are other people and our job is to deal with them.

Captcha_Imagination4 karma

Ever had any emergencies up in the air?

adamchikas3 karma

I usually tell these stories after the flight. My most dangerous flight was when we launched in Vilnius(capital of Lithuania) and there was no wind at all. We were just floating above city untill we ran out of gas (there were two balloons flying that day). I appeared to be very close to airport at the time so we asked if there were any planes coming(our airport's traffic is not too big, but when there are planes we take high altitude about 1000m and try to pass airport zone there.) So here I am with 10% of gas above airport, had about 10 minutes to descend and find a decent spot to land. I was extremely lucky to do so, landed with nearly no gas at all, close to airport. Just after putting balloon on the ground a plane flew over me, later airport explained that they followed me and saw me landing this is why they allowed a plane to land over me. A little luck a little skill and we are fine.

AstoriasStar3 karma

What's the highest these things can go?

adamchikas6 karma

I'd have to google it myself when it comes to world height record on a balloon, but I think the record is something arround 60km by a world record jump by Red Bull. The hot air balloon can go as much as you want untill space :D , so the question is how much a human being can handle which is aprox 3km without oxygen mask.

Bw393 karma

Have you ever flown at the Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque?

adamchikas5 karma

No, but I have an invitation for next year's festival and I consider going. It would be a dream come true to go there, since I am from Europe and I've never been to US so far. And flying alongside 300 ish balloons, I am exciting just texting this. A pilot friend of mine went last year and he made this cool video

I_just_work_here_man3 karma

Ever hit someone with a sandbag?

And did you ever use the flames to grill a little meal while flying?

adamchikas4 karma

Hey, ok so there are a few types of balloons and you must be talking about gas balloon with sand for weight drop. While I am flying ahot air balloon that is going up by heating up the air in the envelope. So no, I did not hit anyone with a sandbag :D

Randym12213 karma

Do you know what went wrong in the last accident, when the hot air balloon crashed ? How can that be avoided ?

adamchikas8 karma

Hey, I believe you refer to the 16 killed in a crash in Texas. I have to mention that balloons are really safe statistically and you don't get these tragic news too frequently. It was most definetly human error as the visibility wasn't good enough because of mist and the balloon flew into transmission tower and nobody survived. Plus recent news suggest that pilot had drugs in system during a flight and he fought depression.

Caffeineisgreat3 karma

Do you mind sharing average costs? Like gear, licences, crew, buying spots at festivals, etc? I've got an idea it requires a ton of cash to get into ballooning as a business but might be wrong! Thanks.

adamchikas8 karma

Hey I am from Lithuania so I'll speak from my perspective. I made my license for roughly 3,5k€ with theory and 15 hours of flights with an instructor. All in all everything here is rather expensive. 10k€ is the cheapest you can get with all incuded the envelope, basket, burners, van(without a car) etc. And gets to as much as 100k€ if everything is brand new. Balloon uses arround 100 litres of propane butane per hour with 5-6 people in the basket and average summer temperature (it burns less gas when it's colder). So again ~~50€ per hour of flight. Now when it comes to tickets we used to charge 80€ for one person per one hour of flight, but as the demand is huge here in Lithuania we are making it 100€ per person from 2017. That being said Lithuania is most probably one of the cheapest you can fly and get a license in Europe.

mansonn6662 karma

So are you about breaking even on the investment you made?

adamchikas3 karma

I work in a balloon club, so I just get 50 € per flight. I made arround 100 flight during summer, which is hard, as it makes you sometimes hate your hobby. Then there are these balloon companies. It's hard to tell, buisness goes well for most of them, as they find the cheapest and best balloon to buy. They also make some profit from advertisment on balloon. Companies pay money or even buy balloons for them, so there is that.

analsaurs2 karma

How cold does it get up there? Do you have any precautions for uv radiation?

adamchikas2 karma

We don't fly high enough to feel the change of the temperature. Balloons usually fly at height of 500-1500 meters while the tempereture starts to change at 3000 meters and higher. Plus the burners make it warmer so at the end it is sometimes even too hot to fly a balloon. One more thing - a balloon flies with wind so we don't feel any wind in the air, which again makes it warmer.

themattbuck2 karma

How do you steer? Do you just land wherever you end up? How do you avoid protected airspace, and other objects in the sky?

adamchikas6 karma

You can't steer a balloon it just flies with a wind. However, we are able to catch winds as on various height the winds blow in various directions.

We plan a flight by checking weather forecast and predicting where we'd end up.

Can't really avoid protected airspace, so we just have the rules of going to a certain heights and wait untill we leave it.

Again, we are fully able to control heights so it makes it easy to avoid objects and sometimes even make turns by catching winds.

jackbrandwein2 karma

In an emergency, if you needed to get back down to the ground (say, if a passenger had a medical problem), how quickly could you return to earth, safely, of course?

adamchikas1 karma

Oh it depends. Whether we are in the middle of big city or in the fields. Whether we are at 1000m height or just floating above ground. In the middle of the big city it would be a nightmare as there are houses, transmission towers, roads, nearly impossible to land in the city. When it comes to height, a balloon can safely go down up to 10 meters per second, so you can do the math yourself :D

knitread1 karma

How did you get into this?

Do you also know how to fly planes?

How would you describe the experience of going up into the sky in the balloon?

This is something that I'd like to try as a passenger, except the thought of being in a small kind of scary.

adamchikas4 karma

My father is a hot air balloon pilot so it was never really a question, whether I would be one as well.

Nope nothing in common with planes except of radio knowledge and being fammiliar with air map. And some other aviation stuff I guess.

It's pretty hard to describe for me as I have over 300 flights and I don't feel anything at all when we go up. Most people don't even realise we've launched from the ground, but mostly because we fly when the weather is good. When the wind is bigger, it seems pretty unsafe at first and we leave the ground all floating and shaking at first, untill we stabilize the situation.

mauxly1 karma

What do you do if a passenger really has to poop?

adamchikas7 karma

Didn't have this kind of situation just yet :D . We land if someone is sick. However we can't land wherever we want to so I guess in a most unfortunate situation we do our stuff and drop it outside the basket. So yeah, no toilets on a balloon :D.

homelesschineseman1 karma

How low can you legally fly? And how low do you think you could fly safely? I saw this video and they fly inches above the ground and really low over traffic and aroud neighborhoods. It seems really cool but a little sketchy.

adamchikas1 karma

Tbh I don't remember exact ruling on minimum altitude above objects. We don't go lower than 1000ft above big cities, also we need to have some 100-200ft above roofs, transmission towers etc. On the fields we can go as low as we want , one of the coolest trick with a balloon is to fly touching the water above lakes. All in all there is no police in the air lol, but pilot must be rational. They shouldn't go low above traffics and big roads, it may cause an accident.

lichorat1 karma

Do you serve wine 🍷in board?

adamchikas3 karma

We have a tradition to drink some champagne after every flight, but if you arrange it before we can serve wine. We fly very early in the morning, one day a young cute couple came and they shared hot chocolate and fresh cookies with everybody in the balloon, which was very cool :D

lichorat1 karma

That sounds so awesome! How many people can fit in the balloon?

adamchikas2 karma

There are all kinds of balloons, big ones can take up to 50 people. I fly an average on with 6-7 people.

lichorat1 karma

How do you handle obese people?

adamchikas1 karma

There is a rule on the ticket that says your max weight is 100kg. Usually people point it out and are willing to pay more. Sometimes obese people just come to a flight without pointing this out and put us in this awkward position, because not only they take a lot of space in the basket but more weight means bigger gas consumption.

Dhandehela1 karma

How safe are hot air baloons?

adamchikas1 karma

Super safe. Honestly, balloon crashes are very rare, and all of them are human errors.

passiveisaggressive1 karma

Oh wow any advice on how to become one and can you tell me your journey to that awesome friggin job?

adamchikas2 karma

I don't have no advice for you as I grew in balloonist family and I've been arround these things since I was a kiddo. So it would be hard for me to tell, whether it is hard to learn it from the scratch, you would have to work in a balloon ground team for quite a while. When it comes to finance, please scroll some questions above, I've answered it already :)

ChopsNZ1 karma

Lithuania. What are the people like in general? Is there a kind of stereotype?

adamchikas2 karma

Stereotype would be not too good as there are a lot of Lithuanian immigrants across Western Europe. So the stereotype would be pretty depressing, but it's a progressive young country with plenty to come.