Guide to BUHABS

Ballooning requires calm conditions which are typically found in the mornings and evenings. Therefore there are four possible flying slots each weekend (Saturday and Sunday, AM and PM). Before each flight you will need to contact the pilot to check that the flight will go ahead. These 'phone-in' times will vary throughout the year as the length of day changes. Read your flight invitation carefully for information about that specific flight.

How to sign up for flights

Sign-up for flights takes place during the second half of the week, usually from Thursday onwards. An email will be sent around detailing the available slots.

BUHABS operates an online sign-up system via Groupspaces, on a first-come-first-served basis. Each possible flying slot will be advertised on the events page ( To sign up, click the 'register' button and enter the required information. You will then be sent a confirmation email containing a phone-in time and number of the pilot, please make a note of this.

It is vital that you call in and speak to the pilot even if the weather is appalling. If the number is engaged please be patient, keep phoning and make sure you get through to the pilot. Please DON'T text or leave an answer-phone message as the pilot may not get it in time.

Please don't sign up for a flight if you are likely to cancel. This isn't fair on other members and invitations are sent out close to the flight time so you should know your availability by then. When you sign up, we assume this is a commitment to showing up. If something changes and you do need to cancel, let the pilot know ASAP so that they can fill the flight, otherwise it may be cancelled.

Crewing points

In order to fly the BUHABS balloon a crew is needed to get the balloon in the air and to help retrieve the balloon from the landing field, otherwise the flight passengers end up stuck in a field! BUHABS operates a crewing point system so regular members get rewarded for their commitment. Each time you come ballooning and help on the ground rather than fly you will gain a crewing point. Every time you fly you will lose a crewing point. Everybody starts with 0 crewing points and they are carried forward each year. On the launchfield priority is given to the members with the greatest number of accrued crewing points, ensuring that everyone gets to fly and retrieve an equal and fair number of times, and aims to ensure that everyone gets to fly on at least 50% of their trips.

You will also lose two crewing points if you fail to call in, reducing your chance of flying next time. All new BUHABS members start on zero, and crewing points are carried over each year. In cases where two or more people are on equal points, Dr. Spellward's patented 'Shortest Blade of Grass' draw takes place on the launch field.

Ballooning checklist

  • Ballooning is totally weather dependant so be prepared to be disappointed. You may have to try a few times before you get to fly.
  • Make sure you phone the pilot at the time given to you at sign-up.
  • If the decision is to go, you will need to meet at the Students Union (Richmond) building in Clifton at the time stated by the pilot.
  • Pick-ups can be arranged if you live a long way from the SU, for example, Stoke Bishop Halls.
  • You will need to bring the following: £40 in cash, suitable clothing (long sleeved jumper/sweater), suitable footwear for retrieving in muddy fields (walking boots or trainers, no more flip-flops please!), money for breakfast / drinks on the way home, optional bottle of Bubbly to celebrate afterwards!
  • The entire outing will take 4-5 hours, and we can drop you off where you were picked up.

BUHABS - Bristol University Hot Air Ballooning

Networks: University of Bristol

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