Hot air balloon rides when you’re afraid of heights
Since 1783, when the first manned flight lifted off in France, hot air balloons have sailed through the sky offering a beautiful sight to those below and astonishing vistas to the lucky ones they carry. An unmissable experience for anyone who would love to see our wonderful world from a brand new perspective, this lighter-than-air transport still boasts its great popularity into the present day.
If you suffer from a fear of heights, you might be put off from booking a balloon, unaware there might be options and information at your disposal that could help you in overcoming this obstacle. If you have this phobia but still desire to fly, read on to understand your fear, how hot air balloons fly and why this might assist you in your ambition to ride the skies.
A fear of heights and how to tackle it
The first thing to remember is you’re not on your own. More than 7% of people suffer from acrophobia, an extreme fear of heights that can interfere with a person’s day-to-day life. Acrophobic people may be unable to use elevators, climb up a tall building or enjoy riding a roller coaster. Symptoms of the phobia can range from dizziness and sweating, to anxiety and panic attacks.
Therapists sometimes assist those with acrophobia using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Through CBT therapy, a person can alter the way they think and feel about the subject that frightens them, which in turn changes the way they behave when confronted with it.
Confronting your fear in increments is another method to challenge your acrophobia. Starting with small heights and exposing yourself to greater ones as you gain confidence. This method should never be attempted alone – facing fears is always managed best with a trusted friend or professional at your side.
Overcoming your fear of height in a hot air balloon
It might surprise you to discover that flying by hot air balloon could be an ideal way to begin moving past your fear of heights. Many of the triggers of acrophobia involve how the human brain assesses distance and how we react to this. When you look down from a height, your brain measure just how far up you are by identifying how small objects look below. It is at this moment the fear begins to creep in.
Riding in a hot air balloon, your eye is not drawn to a focal point that your brain judge distances to – all it takes in is the vast horizon and surrounding scenery. From the balloon, there is no height to measure, but simply a continuing view of the stunning landscape ahead filled with houses, hills, fields and streams.
Hot air balloons are an extremely gentle way to find yourself high-up. There are no sudden drops or elevations like those you might experience in a lift, and the turbulence experienced in other forms of flying like airplanes is never present. Balloons travel with the wind and the passenger basket hangs motionless beneath, making for an extremely tranquil mode of transportation, and a very safe one too.
Only flying in the best weather at suitable times when the wind is not too strong, hot air balloons are a slow and easy introduction to heights for those afraid of them. If on the day of your launch the conditions are considered unfavourable for flight, don’t worry, your ride can easily be rescheduled for a new date that suits your diary. Drifting on the breeze with a little assistance from the burner when necessary is a soft way to get to grips with your fear.
It’s understandable that you might be a little nervous about flying, but that’s quite different from being afraid. All balloon flights are piloted by a qualified expert, so you know you’ll be in safe hands when you take your sky ride.
Preparing for your fearless flight
Now that you’ve decided to try and take a ride in a hot air balloon, you can set a date for your experience. Book your balloon flight as far in advance as you can, as this will give you plenty of time for preparation.
In the weeks or months before your flight, you can practice with handling heights or try some CBT training. Use the time you have to good effect and build your confidence ready for your ride so you can truly enjoy yourself without fear.
As mentioned before, facing your fear of height on your own is never a wise idea. Take a friend with you on your first flight, someone you trust and feel comfortable with. Not only is this helpful to manage your acrophobia but a hot air balloon ride is always best enjoyed in the company of friends. Sharing an airborne adventure together will be a moment you can look band on in the years to come, with photographs and inflight videos available for you both to keep a copy of.
Hot air balloons lift off so gently that passengers are sometimes unaware they’ve left the ground. Once up in the air, employ all the tactics you’ve learned to rethink your fear and try not to focus on it. Instead, keep your eyes on the astounding sights you’ll see from such a lofty vantage and reward your bravery by enjoying the ride.
Once you come back to earth, make sure you celebrate your achievement in style with drinks or dinner. It’s no small feat to overcome your fear of heights and take your very first ride in a hot air balloon, all in one fantastic day.
Through understanding your fear of heights, you can take those steps to overcome it. One of those might be putting your best foot forwards and into the passenger basket of a hot air balloon. With a new comprehension of what lies ahead (and above!) for you, and a faithful friend to accompany you on your ride, you’ll be all set and ready for your first ride in a hot air balloon.