Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How can I join?

See the 'Joining BUHABS' section on the left-hand side of the homepage.

Q. What if I can't sign up on Groupspaces?

If you have a Groupspaces account, you should be able to sign up for all BUHABS events. Have you remembered to sign in? Is the event full? If you think you should be able to sign up but can't, please get in touch via social media or email (mail.buhabs@gmail.comor the pilot of the flight during the sign-up hours.

Q. When does BUHABS fly?

Usually Saturday and Sunday, mornings and evenings. This can involve some early wake-ups for morning slots and late returns for evening slots. In the winter the phone-in times become later in the morning and earlier in the evening, however in the summer the reverse is true so be prepared to leave Bristol as early as 5am and return as late as 10pm on summer flights. Sometimes we organise flights during weekday evenings, emails will be sent to all BUHABS members to let you know if this happens, and there will be an online sign-up as usual.

Q. Where does BUHABS fly?

Mainly in the Bristol/Bath and South Gloucestershire area. Balloons go exactly where the wind takes them, sometimes they even go to Wales across the Bristol channel! The van (tries to!) follow the balloon and should arrive wherever the balloon lands to pick everyone up.

Q. Can I drive the van?

Yes, provided you are over 21 years of age, have at least 2 years of driving experience and are approved and trained on the BUHABS van. If you fancy driving the van then please contact our committee (via who can let you know all the details and arrange training.

Q. Why must I phone in whatever the weather?

You must phone in at the time you are given EVEN if you think the weather is bad. This is because the pilot may think the weather will improve and therefore you may get a flight. Failure to call in will result in the loss of two crewing points and the whole flight might have to be cancelled, as there might not be enough people to fly.

Q. How safe is ballooning?

Were you aware that ballooning is one of the safest forms of aviation, and BUHABS has an excellent safety record? All BUHABS pilots are fully qualified, after rigorous training from some of the country's most experienced pilots. We only fly in good weather conditions and will not fly if conditions are 'marginal'; for this reason you may see other balloonists flying when BUHABS flights are cancelled. Passenger safety is our number one priority.

Q. How many people go out on a trip?

The retrieval van carries up to eight people and the balloon. Out of those eight, one must be the pilot and another the driver. If it is an instructor flight, there will also be a trainee pilot. We need our members to get involved with chasing the balloon as well as flying so that the balloon doesn't end up stranded in a strange field!

Q. What is involved in getting the balloon flight-ready?

There are lots of jobs to be done to prepare the balloon for launch, and once you've been out a few times you will have done them all. Two people hold the mouth of the balloon open whilst cold air is blown in, after which the pilot will heat the air with the burners. Another two people are needed to pull down on the crown line, a rope attached to the top of the balloon, in order to keep the balloon down until it is properly buoyant. Another person operates the inflation fan and others stand by ready to put their weight on the basket when it becomes upright so that it doesn't fly off too early!

Q. How do I keep in touch with what is happening in BUHABS?

As a BUHABS member, you will recieve emails informing you of up-coming BUHABS events. Check us out on Instagram ( and Facebook ( as well, we regularly post about all things ballooning, including reposting some excellent photos from BUHABS members and those who spot our balloon in the local area! As part of our Facebook page, we also run a private members-only group - here, we share photos from flights and socials and you can meet other members of the society! Search 'BUHABS Members 2019-20' and request to join, we'll check you against our membership list and approve you in no time.

Q. How do I sign up to a flight?

Flight invitations will be sent out to paid up members only via Groupspaces, so check the email that you signed up with! You can sign up for one slot and these will fill up on a first come first served basis. Please read the instructions in the invite carefully and make sure you know when you need to phone in to the pilot.

Q. Can I fly my boyfriend/girlfriend/parent/pet Godzilla?

Unfortunately, no. We have a commitment to our members to get them flown ASAP and flying non-members makes this more difficult. However, during the holidays we can have undersubscribed flights. If this happens, and they are eligible to join BUHABS, such a request may be okay, but we're making no promises! If you know someone who is keen to get airborne they should join BUHABS, please don't sign up if you are not a member as checks are made.

Q. What social things does BUHABS do?

We regularly organise social events throughout the year. All social events will be advertised via email along with a linked Facebook event. Contact our social secretary, Nicky (via, for more information or to suggest ideas for socials.

BUHABS - Bristol University Hot Air Ballooning

Networks: University of Bristol

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