Below you will find a list of many of
the questions past passengers have had. Please look over the list and
click on your question to find the answer or links to pages where there are more
details. Another great place to find answers is our
Site Map page.
The Maingate Lakeside Resort.
The Maingate Lakeside Resort is located west of
Interstate 4 on
Highway 192 west, From I-4 take exit 64 and go west on 192 past the
entrance to Disney World and count 5 traffic lights. Turn Right at the 5th light
and you are there!
7769 W. IRLO BRONSON MEM. HWY.
KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA 34747
The Hotel phone
Click here to go to the Meeting Spot page.
Maingate Lakeside Resort
AT SUNRISE 7 DAYS A WEEK (WEATHER PERMITTING)
Our meeting time is 6am year round. You must call the night before your flight
between 5 and 7 pm to find out if the weather will permit us to fly. If
you are getting picked up from your hotel we will confirm the pickup time when
you call in the night before.
Why do you fly so early?
Hot air balloons are completely dependant on the wind. In other words we
do exactly what the wind does. As the sun heats the earth the air begins
to boil just like a pot of water. This boiling of the atmosphere can toss
us around like a two year old pulling a Tonka truck. In other words we
begin to loose control of the balloon and flight operations become dangerous.
Cool, Calm, Early morning Aire is best for your safety. The first hour of
light in the morning is the safest time of the day.
have about 30 different launch and landing sites in the Disney area. Each
day is different. What launch and landing sites we will use on any day is
determined by the speed and direction of the wind that day. Today's
launch site might be tomorrows landing site or we might not go back to that site
We will go as far as the
wind will take us. Remember balloons float with the wind. We have
seen days where we flew for one hour and 15 minutes and went one mile! We
have also seen days where we flew for 45 minutes and went 27 miles. For
more information about flying balloons read the
About the Aircraft
We will fly for about an
hour depending on landing sites and wind speeds. We plan our flight biased
on wind forecasts as well as observations we take at the hotel before we leave.
Our goal is to choose launch and landing sites that are about one hours flight
time apart. To understand more about why we only fly for an hour click on
Why do we fly so early?
How high will we fly.
A. When the
passengers start to pass out from lack of oxygen it is time to go back down.
In our flying area we have a ceiling of 6000 feet. Our normal flight goes
anywhere from tree tops to a couple of thousand feet. There are days when
we spend a large portion of our flight up high and some days down low so we can
take advantage of winds that are moving in the direction we need to go to get to
a suitable landing site. Read
About the Aircraft.
is the only time of the day when weather conditions will allow us to fly here in
Florida. In other parts of the world you may fly a flight in the late afternoon
just before sunset, however, here in Florida the sun is so strong that the
atmosphere does not calm down enough for us to fly another flight.
WE HAVE FLOWN UP TO 275 FLIGHTS A YEAR. THIS AVERAGES ABOUT 5 FLIGHTS PER WEEK. Even with this average we still must cancel flights occasionally
due to inclement weather.
Choose a day early in your trip so as to have backup days available just in case.
Balloons vary in capacity from 4 to 18 adults.
We do not like the larger balloons for several reasons. Most important is
your flying pleasure! We just do not like the Tour BUS mentality.
Yes we could make more money that way but we are creating memories for YOU not
trying to put more 0's on our bank balance.
Our balloons range from a pilot plus two passenger up to pilot plus 6 to 8
passengers at most. What size balloon or how many balloons are used depends on how many
people are scheduled that day.
Our competitors in this
area fly the 16-18 passenger balloons. Don't forget to ask how many other
people will be sharing your special flight..
Q. How do we get in
and out of the balloon?
A. Our balloon
baskets have Steps built into the side of the basket. Getting in and out
of our baskets is rather simple. Put your foot into the step and grab the
bar over your head and climb in. Think of it like getting into a bathtub
shower. There are also seats inside the basket that you can use to step on
In reality our guests find it more difficult getting in and out
of our vans than the balloons. Funny that I have never received an email
with a concern about getting in and out of our trucks. That is far more
challenging for some than the balloon!
Can we get a balloon just for our family or
A. Yes we call that
a private balloon. Our balloons come in several sizes. We will use
the sizes or combination of sizes that best suits the number of people who are
scheduled for that day. We will combine groups to fit the balloons so that
we have no empty seats. If you wish to have a private balloon to
yourselves please view our Private Flight page.
Does a persons weight matter?
Yes it does! In a hot air balloon you,
represent a significant percentage of the total aircraft weight
On an airplane you represent only one out of 250 people so if you
are overweight by 100 pounds then the total average weight per person, only
changes by less than half a pound. Some people have more than that for
In a balloon one person can represent about 25% of the total
passenger load so 100 pounds changes the per person weight by 25 pounds each!
That is the weight of a small child. Imagine what we would have to do if
someone showed up with 4 extra kids we did not expect. we would not be prepared
for that and could not take them flying that day.
Currently we do not make an
additional charge for additional weight but we do reserve the right to decline
to fly someone on any given day if that persons weight significantly changes the
total passenger load for that flight. Please if you are significantly
overweight let us know. It is very easy for us to schedule the right size
balloon to accommodate you.
Q. Will we
fly over Disney?
We try as often as we can to go over the parks.
Balloons float with the wind so we don't get to choose the direction we may
travel. Mother nature will choose our flight path. Many times we do fly over part of the Disney World property. We
don't always go OVER Disney but you can see the parks from most all of our
flights. Keep in mind how big Disney is, you could go right over the Magic
Kingdom and still be FIVE MILES away from Epcot. Disney is the size of a
CITY. We could fly over your city and still be miles away from your house.
Here is a great analogy.
Take a roll of
pennies and set a coffee cup on a table about 30 feet away. Now start throwing
the pennies at the cup, BUT WAIT… Before you start to throw pennies, tell me how many of pennies you
are going to make into the cup and better yet tell me exactly which ones will go
in. We have no clue when we will go over the parks nor could we even begin to predict what
day or what part of Disney we may go across. Anyone who thinks they
can is blowin smoke up your coffee cup…
BUT... If you have a way to make the wind blow in the direction you choose
please back away from the computer and call me right away. I want to talk
What if we do not have a car?
We offer hotel pickup. Just let us know
that you need picked up when you schedule your flight and we will arrange it.
The fee is $15 per person and that is round trip. We will pick you up and
take you back after. This is about 1/2 what a taxi will cost you!
Here is where you can go and find out what the
estimated cost of a taxi would be.
Fair Estimator Remember this is "One Way" and also remember that
on the way back there will be heavy theme park traffic so the cost will be even
higher! Another thing to consider is that the Taxi driver may not know
where he is going, and that it is not uncommon, for a taxi to be late,
especially at that time of morning. Remember Sunrise will NOT wait.
Sure would hate for you to miss your flight because a taxi was late picking you
up. We will not wait!
program takes 3 to 4 hours, we meet at 6 am and you will be done around 9:30.
About the time when all the Disney Parks open.
Average time span.
We start with a pre-flight briefing where we explain the mornings program from
start to finish (about 10 minutes) we then go outside and launch a small helium
balloon and see what the wind speeds and directions are. (about 10 minutes)
This determines what launch and landing sites we will use for that day. We
load up in our vehicles and head out for a launch site. (2-20 minute drive)
We inflate the balloon's (about 15 minutes.) Take off and fly 45-60 min.
Land and pack up. 15 minutes. We celebrate with the traditional
Champagne toast. 15-20 minutes. Load up and head back to the hotel
5-30 minutes and then have breakfast. Approx 30 minutes.
YES.... Bring lots of film or
batteries and memory cards. You will love the photos you take! also if you
have extra batteries that may be something you will be glad you packed.
NO Deposit Required. To book your flight
you will need a credit card to reserve your spots. No charges will be made until
after the flight. During breakfast we will ask you how you would like to pay for
Here is a link to our cancellation policy page.
If the weather is bad do I get my money back.
A. NO! We only charge the
Please go and read the
Cancellation Policy again! We do not take
any money in advance, so, if you do not get to fly we don't have anything
to give back, silly....
Actually you will be WARMER in the balloon.
the clue HOT) float with the wind so there is no wind chill. Generally in the
morning as we climb the air actually gets warmer by a few degrees.. You may want
to wear a hat to protect your head from the radiant heat of the balloon burners.
What should I wear or how should we dress.
A. We will be out in
open pastures and fields. The grass in many cases is tall and wet from the
morning dew. We suggest you dress as if you were going for a hike in the
woods or a walk in the park. Because we will be out in open and most often
unkept areas we do not suggest open toed shoes such as sandals and flip flops.
You feet will most likely get dirty and wet.
This is an out door sport! Balloons need
large areas to launch and to land. This means open fields like
Farms, Cattle Pastures and hay fields and large open and often
UN-KEPT land. This means tall grass, Cows, Bugs, Ants and many
other items associated with large open areas. O did we say OUT
We do not choose what fields happen to be lined up
with the wind direction on any given day. SO... Assume your
shoes will be soaked and have mud all over them and your pants will
be wet all the way up to your knees.
THEN when we land somewhere nice you will be
thrilled and when you wear sandals or flip flops you will understand
why we are all laughing. O did we say OUT DOORS..
On a serious note. Fire Ants are everywhere
in Florida. Watch where you walk and where you stand. If you
stand near a colony or on a mound they will swarm and begin to bite
you. They are painful and if you are bitten enough you may
need medical attention or an antihistamine to combat the swelling.
an by the way. There are no snakes.. We put a sign up that says "No
Do you ever have blackout dates?
A. Yes, There are days when we need time for
maintenance, inspections or for other reasons to put special rules on a specific
date. Here is a great example. Valentines Day. This is one of
the most popular days to fly and especially on those years where the 14th falls
on a weekend. We will be FULL WEEKS in advance. If you have
purchased your ticket from an outside seller WE are not getting our full price.
They take a commission out of your ticket price.
of it this way.
sell widgets. There is one day a year where the demand for
widgets is so HIGH you are going to sell every widget you have in stock.
In FACT you could sell more than twice as many widgets as you can possibly have
on hand at any one time. So are you going to discount the widget on that day?
We only have so many
seats. We do fly tickets sold by outside ticket sellers and use them
to fill in the empty seats on board our balloons. This keeps us from
flying empty seats and lowering our overall cost. But.... on a day when we
know every seat will be FULL (even if we charged twice the price) it would be
silly and bad business to fly discounted tickets. Remember after all is
said and done. This is a business and if we fail to be profitable it
becomes a very expensive hobby.
Moral of the story.
Buy from the service provider and not the middle man.
Here is a website
where you can find providers nation wide and avoid the middlemen.
Can we get discounts for Military or Florida
A. No. The
balloon does not know the difference. As much as we would like to we
simply do not have the margin to give any additional discounts beyond our normal
discounts for family's or multiple
Hot Air Balloons age
per hour of flight time regardless of who is on board. To give discounts
for any special group of people means that we favor them over someone else.
We would also have to charge someone else more to be able to give you the
discount and that too is something we frown upon. Why should someone else
give up there hard earned money to pay for any part your balloon ride?
You are welcome to
ask someone else to chip in for your flight but please do not ask us to do that
for you! Stealing money from those who have earned it and giving it to
those who have not earned it is the job of our government and not ours.
The next problem is who do you give the special discounts to? What makes someone
worthy of special treatment over someone else? Here again we get into a
sticky mess. My group is better than your group and so on. We just
go by one simple slogan,
"We don't play games with our prices and we don't play
games with your life"
If you want cheap we are simply not it. We do this
for a living and not a hobby.
Do we need to be on time? What if we are late?
A. YES... YES you must be on time. We can
not express this enough. Our timetable is dictated by sunrise. We
can not stop or slow down the sunrise. Once the sun comes up it will begin
to heat the earth and take away the calm that we need for safe flight. WE
MUST FLY during the first hour of daylight to be safe. After that the
winds will increase and so will the risk of being hurt. WE WILL NOT risk
harm to those passengers who did show up on time for those who for what ever
reason can not be on time. How would you feel if we took extra risks with
your life for someone who could not follow simple instructions. If you are
running late CALL US RIGHT AWAY and we don't mean 10 minutes after you should
have shown up. Please understand when we must leave we will. We do
not care if you are only 10 minutes away we must leave and the pilots are the
only ones who have the training to make that decision so it does not matter if
YOU think we could or should wait. If you call and ask if we can wait, do
not be surprised if we ask, if you can stop sunrise.
SUNRISE SETS OUR SCHEDULE. IF YOU ARE LATE WE WILL
LEAVE WITHOUT YOU!
Be on time or 15
minutes early just to be safe.
Why are some balloon rides cheaper?
A. We like to point
out the old saying, "You get what you pay for!"
In downtown Disney
they have a big helium filled balloon on a cable that you can go up and down in
for very little money. They call that a balloon ride too!
Some of the other hot air balloon companies in this
area fly 18 to 24 passenger balloons so you can get a discount if you want to
fly with 20 other people at the same time.
You can also find some guys
here that have a balloon in a trailer, or a balloon in their garage and flying a balloon is
a hobby for them. They try to earn a little extra money by taking
people for rides. They are less expensive too! Then after the flight
they will set up a small table and serve you breakfast from a cooler.
Danish, OJ, Cheese and crackers.. Hope you don't have to use the restroom
or want to wash up before you put food in your mouth. Never mind the heat
of the summer or the bugs and dust and dirt!
Thompson Aire guests return to a full buffet style sit down restaurant with
an Omelet Chief and Air Conditioning and Restrooms and for goodness sake believe
it or not,,,, Silverware!...
All of them are less expensive and offer all kinds of
discounts. If that is what it takes to get your booking then please call
We are simply the
best of the best. SEE: Why Choose
We do not cut corners, we have the best pilots and do not take chances. If you want to have a great time and be sure
you are in good hands then Thompson Aire is who you want.
Besides, Be Honest, what are you going to save? Ten or fifteen bucks?
What is your life worth?
We know that occasionally there is someone who just does not want to FLY!
We have what is called the Chase
Package. You do everything the fliers do except the flight. Click on Chase Package
for more information.
need a reservation. Our balloons hold between two to eight passengers. If
you just show up for a flight we may not have room to add you that day. Remember
we try NOT to fly with empty seats since that will cause everyone else to pay
WE RECOMMEND YOU
SCHEDULE YOUR FLIGHT ABOUT A WEEK IN ADVANCE FOR A WEEKDAY FLIGHT AND TWO WEEKS
FOR A WEEKEND. If you need a flight the
next morning do not hesitate to call. many times we can get you in on short
notice. But you must call us so we can try to get you in. Do not
show up for a flight without a reservation. PLEASE
As a parent you would be rich if you had a
dollar for every time you said "Hot Hot. No No." We normally do not
recommend the flight for children under the age of 5.
I have a 6 year old who has flown 8 times and a
three year old who has not made his first flight yet. The main problem we
encounter with small children is the balloons burner. They are very powerful and
loud. This tends to frighten small children. Wearing earplugs has helped some
children in the past. Keep in mind also that with small children along you will
force us to reduce our weather tolerance some. A landing that healthy adults can
handle safely and a landing with small children are quite different. Children do
not hang on the same way an adult does and if you are holding on for the kids
“Who is hanging on for you”? REMEMBER:
WE DON’T GET TO CHOOSE the landing conditions. That is up to mother nature.
Another issue is understanding and obeying the pilots instructions. Small
children do not communicate well and often do not obey instructions.
We are not against families flying with us. In fact we
are very very family friendly because we all grew up doing this as a family.
We just want you properly
warned before you come so your youngsters can enjoy the flight as well.
All of my nieces and nephews have flown when they were just 3 years old. My own
daughter Ava flew three times before the age of three.
If you have children under the age of 5 please take the time to talk to them
about the balloon and make sure they understand that the fire is how we make the
balloon fly and it wont hurt them. Also consider ear plugs for the
children and give them a test run before you come to fly. They have no
benefit if you can not get the child to wear them.
Thompson Family in the Albuquerque
balloon fiesta in 1977
First flight Jan 6th 2012 @ 7 months old.
Its like my dad
used to say. "If the kids aren't happy then moms not happy and if moms not
happy no one is."
407-421-9322 We need to know how many in your group, what day you want to fly,
where you are staying and a credit card to reserve your spots, Or, go to our
Book A Flight
page and fill out the reservation form.
Safety is the corner stone of our business.
We have been operating hot air balloons for OVER 38 years. We simply will not fly unless the conditions are right.
We maintain our aircraft to the highest standards. Even above the
standards required by the FAA! When we must cancel a flight we tell our
passengers one simple thing.
"We hate to disappoint someone but we refuse to hurt
anyone". This includes us since we are going up there too....
With Thompson Aire you are in the safest hands possible with an average flight
experience of 30 years per pilot.
Our chief pilot Jeff Thompson is just a few short months away from receiving
Ed Yost Master Aeronaut award. There have only been a couple of dozen
Master Aeronaut awards given out and very few of those are still living or
The ED YOST master Pilot Award.
Only ONE in the state of Florida and only about 6 in the United States
that you can fly with!
A. If the weather forecast does not look good for
your flight we will simply ask if you have another day you would like to try to
fly. Our pilots are the best and we respect their decision
if we must cancel a flight. Over the years we have gotten real good at
reading the weather. We have lived the weather for over 39 years now.
If there is a chance of flying we will go out but if there is no chance then we
will not drag you out of bed for no reason.
How do we find out if the weather is bad?
All passengers, are asked to call the night
before the flight to check the weather forecast for the next morning's flight.
We ask that the passengers call 407-421-9322 between 5 and 7pm the night before
your flight. One of our Pilots will
be on duty to let you know what the forecast looks like for the next mornings
If you fail to check in the night before you may just
end up at The Maingate Lakeside Resort all by yourself. If the weather forecast is bad
we will not be showing up at the Maingate Lakeside Resort.
Why do the passengers have to call in?
Why do you not call us?
We tried calling our passengers and it did not work. Many of our passengers are out to dinner or at a
theme park or doing something where they can not hear the phone or do not have
service. So we could make dozens of calls all night and not get a hold of some people.
The record is 38 phone calls to get a hold of 9 sets of passengers...
So... YOU CALL US!! We are always here and you know when you are
available to make a call.
No! If you have access to the internet we
post things on the calendar! If we know for sure that the weather is going
to be bad we will post weather alerts on the our
TA Calendar! You can click on the weather
alert and a pop up message will appear telling you what the alert is. Then
you can send us an email telling us you have read the alert!
Ain't this internet thingy great!!!
Adult Fare $185.00 per Person (Adult)
Adult Fare (10 to 15 Years) $105.00
5 to 9 years old Free with paid adult.
Please be aware
when bringing children under the age of 5 years old. The burner on the balloon will
frighten very small children. Please see information on the
Only one child
free per adult. Additional children will be charged at the Jr. Adult price.
For Example 2 Adults with 1 Jr. Adult and 3 Children would be (2@ $185) (2@ $105) and (2 free)
Florida sales tax
is 6.5% See PRICING PAGE for more info
Four Adults booked together
reduces the price to $180 each.
Five Adults, booked together can fly for
Six Adults or more, booked together can fly for
pricing page for conditions on reduced rates.
Junior adults and children's prices are with a full paying adults.
To receive the family rates you must pay full adult rates. You
may not combine Family Rates and Group Discounts. You may choose the
pricing that fits your group best.
Before asking for any other discounts please
Discounts on our FAQ page.
NOTE: These are not
flights! You may have other people with you in the balloon
depending on the number of people in your party.
Private flights are available.
To book your flight you
will need a credit card to reserve your spots.
No charges will
be made until after the flight. During breakfast we will ask
you how you would like to pay for your flight. Here is a link
to our cancellation
We accept all forms of payment. We
will take Cash, Travelers checks, Master Card, Discover, Visa, and on a rare
occasion first born.
We are sure without a doubt you will LOVE IT !!!
But don't take our word for it, Have a look at what previous passengers have said. Click here to go to the
Or View our
Q. Can I purchase T-shirts and stuff before I fly
go to our shirts and stuff page and click on the order my stuff link.
What if we are coming from a long ways away.
can get a room at the hotel where we meet. Also let us know you are
driving from a long way so we can help with the weather decision. If we
know you are coming from Jacksonville or Tampa or any other place that takes a
long time and you are planning to stay the night at our hotel we will do our
best to make an early forecast for you so you don't waste a trip.
that you are coming for a balloon flight and you will get a discount.*****
Maingate Lakeside Resort.
7769 W. IRLO BRONSON MEM. HWY.
KISSIMMEE, FLORIDA 34747
TELEPHONE: (407) 396-2222 - (800) 848-0801 - FAX: (407) 239-2650
What does AD and JR mean on the Calendar?
A. If you go to the bottom of the
calendar you will see the calendar legend. The legend explains all of the
colors and notations we use on the calendar. The legend looks something
Can I put stuff on the Calendar?
A. No. We are the only
ones who can put stuff on the calendar. If you would like something put on
the calendar please send us a note or call and we will see if we can help.
What if someone can not
stand for an hour?
Our balloons are equipped with SEATS! They may ride sitting down and enjoy
the whole flight. We are one of the very few balloon ride operations that
do have seats. The seats are great for kids too! Kids can sit on
their knees and see over the side of the basket in safety and comfort. We
do want to know if you have someone in your party who has a hard time standing
or is in a wheelchair since there are other considerations we must take into
account in preparation for your flight.
Please inform us in advance if you have anyone who's mobility is restricted in
Can we bring our own champagne
No, Unfortunately the FAA requires us to be able to lock a door between
the passengers consuming alcohol and the pilot operation the aircraft. A
balloon basket does not have doors. But I promise you will survive the
flight with out the champagne and we will serve you champagne as soon as we get
back to mother earth.
What if I get motion sickness easy
Have no worry. The hot air balloon moves so slowly that there is no
sensation of motion at all. Seriously if you had your eyes closed you
would never know you were moving at all. In 35 years of flying we have
never had anyone get motion sick. The balloon floats. Imagine you
were in a canoe floating down a river. You feel like your sitting still
but you can see by the banks of the river that you are indeed moving. A
balloon floats with the wind and moves smoothly up and down. Truly a float
and no feel of motion at all.
Are there fumes from the fuel for the balloon.
No. In a hot air balloon we burn propane to create the heat to fly the
balloon. The same propane you use in your Bar-B-Q grill at home. No
one ever worries about the fumes from the grill. Propane is one of if not
the most clean fuels we have. Propane burns 99.7% clean. No residue
no fumes no nothing. If it did create fumes our balloons would look
horrible after a few flights yet after years of use there is no build up of
anything. think of it this way, If you left your Bar-B-Q grill on by
accident you could sit near it and not even know it was on unless you felt the
heat from it. No fumes from the balloon burners at all.
What if someone is AFRAID OF HEIGHTS?
There are three things that cause people to be afraid of heights and NONE of
them happen in a balloon.
fear is motion, that butterfly in the stomach feel like you have in an elevator
or on a Ferris wheel. The balloon is so large and moves so slowly there is
no sensation of motion at all!
Second is the
fear of falling. This is like when you are on a ladder or the edge of the
roof where you know if you make one wrong step you are going to hurt yourself.
This is also referred to as Impending Peril. The sides of the balloon
basket are high enough that you would have a hard time jumping out let alone
falling out so that fear does not happen.
The LAST one
is centrifugal force. The earth is a spinning object and the farther away
you get the faster you spin. Some people have such a sensitive inner ear
(Balance) that when they go up in a high place they feel like they are going to
fall. This is because they are spinning faster and their balance is being
thrown off. We have all heard someone say "I don't need to go near the
edge or look out the window just being up here makes me feel funny" That's
because looking out is not the problem. They are spinning faster and their
inner ear has not become accustom to it. In a balloon we are no longer
attached to the spinning object. In a balloon you actually spin LESS than
if you had stayed on the ground! This disarms the inner ear.
IN 38 YEARS
OF FLYING OVER 6,000 FLIGHTS, I have never had to land and let someone out!