General FAQs

Is there an admission charge

Yes. A 3 day-weekend pass is available in advance online for $5 (or at the gate for $8).This ticket is good for unlimited access to the Festival for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Kids 6 and under are free.

How do I buy tickets

Tickets will be available to purchase online the first week of June. Look for the blue "Buy Tickets" link beginning in June throughout our website to purchase.

Do you have any special admission deals throughout the weekend

YES! Online pre-sales available for $5.00 (+.75 transaction fee) at the above "Buy Tickets".

Is parking available at the Festival

Close and convenient parking is available on the Tigard High School field for $8 (CASH ONLY). Parking fees are an important part of the Festival’s charitable giving and benefits THS Breakfast Rotary & THS Boosters. The Parking entrance is at the Tigard High School Swim Center Parking Lot. There is a short walk down the Cook Park hill to the Festival grounds or you may ride the shuttle for only $1 benefitting American Cancer Society/ Relay for Life.

Where are the balloons

Weather and pilot permitting, balloons will only be onsite for morning launches (5:45-6:15am - balloons may be visible in the sky longer depending on wind speed), tether rides (following morning launches as long as fuel lasts) and Night Glow (dusk). Enjoy a number of other Festival attractions (see schedule below) in between these hours. Why are balloons only onsite in the morning and evening? Hot air balloons can only fly in stable air and no rain (including foreseeable rain). During the day, the sun heats the earth, which creates thermals making it unstable for balloons to fly. Where do the balloons fly in the morning? Balloons will follow the direction of the wind and for the Tigard Festival of Balloons that wind needs to be blowing generally south to avoid populated areas to the north. Look for the balloons over Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood, Wilsonville, Aurora or Woodburn.

When will I know the status of balloon activities due to weather

Morning launches will be announced at approximately 5:30AM following the 5:15AM pilot briefing. Night Glow will be announced at approximately 8:30PM following the 8:15PM pilot briefing.

When should I arrive for balloon activities

Arrive between 5-5:30AM for morning launches. Keep in mind there is parking and a walk to the field. If you are waiting at home for confirmation the balloons are launching, it may be too late by the time you arrive. Arrive between 8-8:30PM for the Night Glow.

Where do the morning launches and Night Glow take place

In 2017, all balloon activities were moved to the Nicoli Athletic Fields for safety purposes. This field is located to the left (East) of 92nd Ave at the bottom of the hill.

How can I get a balloon ride (flight)

The Festival does NOT sell hot air balloon rides (flights) during the event. Contact Vista Balloons or Willamette Valley Balloons about a balloon ride during non-Festival days.

How can I get a tethered ride

Tethered rides are available for FREE each morning (weather permitting and pilot permitting) as long as fuel is available. Tethered rides are first come first serve following the balloon launches. Participants must sign a waiver. Look for the sign up tent for the waiver and to receive a ride ticket.

Why are balloon activities suspended

Rain: If it is raining or forecasted to rain, balloons due not fly. Winds: Balloons fly best in light and stable winds of 4-6 miles per hour. Maximum safe winds are 8-10 mph. It’s not just the surface winds, but winds up to 9,000 feet. Higher winds tell us if we might encounter issues such as wind shear, turbulence, or strong surface winds later during the flight. Even if there are no winds to speak of at the surface, the winds aloft may determine our decision not to fly.

Why should I attend when balloon activities are suspended due to weather

The hot air balloons are definitely the featured attraction of the Festival, but sometimes the weather prevents the balloon activities, even mild wind speeds can keep balloons from morning launches or night glows. Fortunately, there are many other activities to enjoy at the Festival. Spend the afternoon shopping at the craft and vendor booths, eating great food from local food vendors, and enjoying thrilling Funtastic carnival rides and games. On Friday and Saturday evenings the main stage comes to life with live music. Grab a beer or wine from the Beer Garden and enjoy the night with friends and family.

Are dogs allowed on the Festival grounds

No. Due to a City ordinance on the athletic fields, no pets allowed in Cook Park during the event. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Do I have to buy a Friday Pass online to get unlimited carnival rides on Friday, June 26th

No, you can purchase a weekend admission pass at the gate ($8), and an unlimited carnival rides pass ($30) at the carnival ticket booths. Buy online and save $8 with the Friday only admission ticket.

Will there be a Pancake Breakfast in 2020

Yes, the Tigard High School Band will provide a great pancake breakfast each morning 6am-10am.

Can I ride my bicycle to the Festival

Of course, you can!! Get exercise and save money on parking! New this year, the Festival will have a bike check where you can safely leave your bike at the MAIN ENTRANCE ONLY from 5 AM to 11 PM on Friday and Saturday, and from 5 AM to 5 PM on Sunday. The Festival will have an area to lock your own bikes up (bring your own lock) at both the East and West entrances.

Why do I have to buy a 3-day pass when I only want to attend one of the days

The Festival created a 3-day pass only in order to accomodate the wide spread of activites that occur on any given day. As the balloons launch very early in the morning (begins at 5:45AM), you can take advantage of all of the other activites that the Festival has to offer (carnival, vendors, car show, Twilight Run at Dawn, youth soccer tournament-postponed 2019-2020, and more).

Where is the soccer tournament

Due to construction at Tigard High School, the soccer tournament has been postponed in 2019 and 2020.

Do you have overnight camping available onsite

NO. The closest RV Park is Roamers Rest, just a few miles away. Here is their contact info 17585 SW Pacific Hwy Tualatin, OR 97062 (503) 692-6350.

Can I bring food and drinks into the Festival

Yes. Food and non-alcoholic beverages are allowed to be brought into the Festival.

Balloon FAQS

Is a Hot Air Balloon an Aircraft

Yes. A Hot Air Balloon is a type of Aircraft just as gliders, helicopters, seaplanes, fixed wing airplanes are also types of Aircraft

Are there rules

Yes. First a Pilot must be trained to fly a Hot Air Balloon and then licensed by the FAA. Next the FAA writes the rules about how Aircraft may be flown. Balloon Pilots observe these ‘rules of the road’ just like Airline Pilots. In fact it’s the same rule book used by both.

How big are hot air balloons

Balloons come in various sizes. The size is determined by the number of cubic feet of air that can be contained within the envelope. Sizes range from as small as 30,000 cubic feet or as large as over 300,000 cubic feet. Most have difficulty relating cubic feet to something they are familiar with. A basket ball or shoe box is about 1 cubic foot in size.

How are balloons maintained

Pilots and Owners of Hot Air Balloons may perform some routine maintenance on their Aircraft, much like checking the air pressure or changing the oil in your vehicle. Maintenance requiring repair or disassembly of parts must be performed by licensed repair persons at licensed repair stations. The manufacturer of the Balloon determines what can be maintained by the Pilot and what must be performed by the Repair Station. In addition, the FAA determines the frequency in which all Balloons must undergo a complete inspection called an Annual Inspection.

Preparing for Flight

The balloon is prepared by spreading the envelope (the big fabric portion) out on the ground, with the basket attached to it and lying over on its side. A gasoline-powered fan is normally used to inflate the balloon with cold air until it is packed full, and then the propane burners are ignited to heat the balloon up. At this point, the balloon will slowly stand up, and then it's the ground crews' job to hold the basket down with their collective weight while the pilot continues his preflight checks and boards passengers. When all is ready to go, the pilot gives his crew the signal for "weight off," and with a few more blasts of the burner, takes to the sky!

So, how does all this work

Basically, a balloon flies because the air inside the envelope is hotter than the air outside (known as ambient air). Although some people prefer more technical explanations, it really is that simple! The burners heat the air inside and allow the pilot to control the rate of ascent & descent. When it's time to come down, the pilot can either let the air in the envelope cool off on its own, or he can open a vent at the top of the balloon to let some air out - either way works. When it's time to land, the pilot will open the deflation port all the way to spill the air out the top and deflate the balloon. The balloon will then lie on its side and patiently wait to be packed up by the pilot and crew.

Who can fly a Balloon

Well, anyone can fly in a balloon, but to fly one you must become an F.A.A. licensed balloon pilot.

There are two levels of balloon pilot ratings. The first is a private pilot. The pilot must have at least 10 hours of flight time in free balloons; must pass a written test, oral test and flight check prior to being issued a private pilot’s license by the FAA. The second rating is a commercial pilot. The commercial pilot must have at least 35 hours of flight time in free balloons; must pass an additional written, oral and flight check prior to being issued a commercial pilot’s license by the FAA.

How do I become a pilot

First "Official" thing to do is to apply for a Student Pilots' certificate which is needed to be able to make your solo flight and later flight tests with an examiner. To be a student pilot, you must be at least 14 years old and understand the English language, among other minor things.

You might have already received and logged some ground and flight instruction at this point, but if not, what are you waiting for? The next phase is to find an instructor willing to teach you. Any commercial balloon pilot in the U.S. has the privileges of acting as balloon flight instructor, so there will be a number of pilots to help you get on your way. Training involves at least 10 hours of flight instruction, passing a written knowledge test, extensive ground instruction, and finally passing a flight examination with an F.A.A. inspector (also known as a Practical Test). Pass that, and you'll be granted your Private Pilot's Certificate for Hot Air Balloons! A private pilots' certificate allows you to take passengers up, but to be able to operate for hire, you must earn your Commercial hot air balloon pilots' certificate. This involves at least 35 hours of flight time and a much more stringent and demanding flight test.

How can I get involved

Easy! Find a balloon pilot near you and give him or her a call or email. Most pilots will be delighted to have you come out and get involved the next time they go flying. The more help, the merrier!

What time of day do the flights take place

Flights take place at sunrise and approximately 2 hours prior to sunset. Hot Air Balloons are not able to fly during the day due to thermal activity, which makes the air unstable.

What type of weather conditions are needed to fly in a Hot Air Balloon

Hot Air Balloon passenger flights take place in winds less than 10 knots, with no rain or approaching storms in the immediate area. Flights also require visibility of at least 4 km.

How do Balloons fly

Balloons operate through the basic principles of gravity and heat transfer. As air inside the balloon is heated, it rises. As the air inside the balloon cools, it descends. To make the balloon fly, an inflator fan fills it with cool air (cold packing), which is then heated by the balloons burners. When the air is warmed to the point it is able to lift the balloon, equilibrium is achieved.

Can you steer a balloon

Winds determine a balloon’s direction. Balloonists can steer a balloon, to a limited extent, by adjusting the balloon’s altitude to make use of different wind speeds and directions.

Balloons simply float with the wind. The pilot can control the balloon's altitude to find a wind going in the desired direction, but you cannot fly upwind or crosswind. Preflight planning insures the pilot knows which way the balloon will be traveling, and the pilot makes sure there are plenty of suitable landing sites downwind.

What fuel do balloons use

Propane in stainless steel fuel tanks. Balloons frequently carry between 10 and 60 gallons onboard. This quantity of fuel permits the 1 to 1 ½ hour flights normally experienced with a sufficient reserve supply remaining.

Why do balloons fly in the early morning and late evening

Winds are generally most favorable the first hours after sunrise and the last hours before sunset. The sun’s uneven heating of the earth’s surface causes strong, variable winds. In the morning, it takes a few hours for the sun to heat the earth’s surface enough to generate the thermal activity that creates wind. In the evening, the sun’s intensity has diminished enough to reduce winds to acceptable flight levels. Ideal winds are 3 to 6 mph.

How high do balloons fly

From treetop level to 2,000 to 3,000 feet, depending on what the pilot is trying to accomplish. The world record in a balloon is over 32,000 feet!

How much does a balloon cost

New balloons can vary in size and amenities. A smaller sport balloon can run around $13,000 to $25,000 and can carry a pilot and up to 3 passengers. Commercial ride balloons are much larger and can run as much as $70,000 to $80,000 new. In addition, there’s always the cost of equipment (fans, radios, trailers, chase vehicles, etc.) in addition to the cost of the balloon.

How long does it take to inflate and deflate the balloon

A good ground crew can inflate and launch a balloon in fifteen minutes or less. It takes about the same amount of time to deflate and pack up the balloon after the flight.

Why is the angle of the sun important

The sun is the source of wind, because it heats the earth unevenly. Sunlight falls directly on the equator, for example. The North Pole receives weaker, slanted rays of sunlight. Clouds may keep one area cool while another heats up. Water and land heat up at different rates. Hot air is lighter than cool air, so it rises. As hot air rises, cool air slides in to replace it. The result: wind. It isn't safe to fly during the daytime when different pockets of air are rising and falling.

How do you get back to where you started

A chase crew follows along in a van or truck. The chase crew is in radio contact with the pilot, so they can be there when the balloon lands (or soon afterwards).

What are envelopes made of

Rip-stop nylon is the most common material. Polyester and other fabrics are sometimes used. The lower portions around the opening are usually made from a fire resistant material like Nomex, similar to what race car drivers and firemen wear.

What happens if a bird flies into a balloon?