Hot air ballooning is the activity of flying hot air balloons. Attractive aspects of ballooning include the exceptional quiet (except when the propane burners are firing), the lack of a feeling of movement and the bird’s-eye view. Since the balloon moves with the direction of the winds, the passengers feel absolutely no wind, except for brief periods during the flight when the balloon climbs or descends into air currents of different direction or speed.
commercial hot air ballooning was introduced to Sri Lanka in 2003 by Mr Peter Andrew Stewart (Australian) of Adventure Centre Asia along with the 1st Hot Air Balloon Festival organized by Capt. Anil Jayasinghe. The festival took place in the South and the North Central. There were many international balloonist who took part in this festival.
Sun Rise Ballooning (Pvt) Ltd. is now operating since 2010 in Dambulla having identified this to be “The Ballooning Area in the Cultural Triangle” in terms of safety and scenic. They are the Premier Hot Air Balloon Operator in Sri Lanka, flying thousands of happy and satisfied passengers for the last 10 years.
The partners of Sun Rise Ballooning, Justin Moore – Chief Pilot & Director and Mareena Pallie – Director Operations who are passionate balloonists. Mareena has been a part of the Sri Lankan commercial ballooning industry since it began in the year 2003 with Justin who is the most senior Balloon Pilot in Sri Lanka since 2006. Together they have maintained 100% safety records for this industry in Sri Lanka keeping the industry alive.
Currently Sri Lanka has a 100% safety record without a minor injury such as a sprained ankle. This is due to the operators using the services of highly experienced European Pilots who are properly trained to bear in mind “Safety First”. These pilots have met the requirements of the Authorities.
A balloon operator must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka meeting all requirements from Registrations and Airworthiness of Balloons, Passenger liability insurance, Commercial Pilots must have NIB clearance, valid medical, pass the Air Law exam and a high standard of the English language is required for the safety briefing to passengers at takeoff and landing.
Hot air balloon launches are made during the cooler hours of the day, at dawn with the sunrise. At this time of day, the winds are typically light making for easier launch and landing of the balloon. Flying at these times also avoids thermals, which are vertical air currents caused by ground heating that make it more difficult to control the balloon. In Sri Lanka hot air ballooning is seasonal and only sunrise flights can be done during the months November to April. The climatic conditions during the months May to October are not favorable for ballooning. For a safe commercial balloon flight the winds have to be calm and the air cool with good weather as ballooning is totally weather dependent.
Since most of the tours include the Cultural Triangle, ballooning can be done with ease even if not included in the itinerary. Since this activity is at sunrise and the passengers can be back at their hotels for their regular breakfast and then continue their day as planned.
A common tradition among balloonists is to have a champagne toast upon landing and this continues in Sri Lanka as well on commercial sight-seeing flights. Dambulla is by far, one of the best places for ballooning and is very popular among visitors from every corner of the world. Thousands of flights have taken to the air in this area by very professional Balloon Pilots.
What better way to start one’s day with a sunrise balloon flight at 6 am carried by the light winds across the country side absorbing the views beginning from the flight take off time till landing after one hour. This unique activity is not to be missed if you are visiting Sri Lanka. The beauty is endless surrounded with the Golden Buddha, Sigiriya Fortress, Pidurangala, wildlife, birds, jungles, cultivations, tanks, fishermen and villages all waking at daybreak. The amazing colours of nature is absolutely not to be missed.
At landing the passengers are served with a glass of champagne by the Pilot as a toast for a safe flight. This is the time that passengers who were complete strangers at take-off become friends and socialize with each other. To top it, the villagers both young and old will be present to say hello to the passengers as if they were visitors from another planet! Chit chatting and taking photos to last a memory of their balloon flight in Sri Lanka.
There has been a few visitors who have come back for a second flight and all who do a balloon flight says that it is one the highlight of their visit to Sri Lanka.
A thank you to all the Balloon Pilots who have been flying in SL since the inception and keeping it safe:
Anil Jayasinghe – Sri Lankan
Allen Calder – British
Chris Dewhurst – Australian
Mark Shermilt – British
Chris Aindow – British
Justin Moore – British
(Chief Pilot / Director of Sun Rise
Ballooning (Pvt) Ltd.)
Martin Collinson – British
Rebecca Caine – British
Jon Russell – British
Stuart Seager – British
Jerome Hallier – French
Richard Sandrasagara – Sri Lankan
Chinthaka Jayasinghe – Sri Lankan
Martin Cowling – British
Kate Holzer – British