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Hot air balloons face weather challenges

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

August 26, 2010 — Pilots of hot air balloons need the perfect weather conditions to take flight.

Mr. Peanut is the tallest balloon in the world
Mr. Peanut is the tallest balloon in the world

The cold front that sliced across southern Ontario Wednesday was enough to ground the Mr.Peanut hot air balloon in Markham, Ontario.

The balloon is the tallest in the world and when inflated stretches about 16 stories high. Designers made the balloon back in 2006 as a way to mark the 100th anniversary of Planters.

While, pilot Dave Monson was looking forward to taking flight on Wednesday, he says the conditions to get the large peanut off the ground weren't ideal. The cold front brought wind and rain to most areas in the region, which could cause problems in the air.

A gust of wind can throw a balloon off track
A gust of wind can throw a balloon off track

“Weather is everything...we need light winds on the surface, light winds on the altitude, good visibility, no precipitation is very important and no risk of thunderstorms,” explains Monson.

He adds that even the time of day plays an important role on the balloon.

“Balloons are limited to free flying first thing in the morning, close to the sunrise and then close to sunset and that's because the air becomes convective and thermal during the day. Gliders like to fly in thermals, but balloons don't like them at all.”

If you plan to take flight, you can check the weather in your area by heading to our Canadian Cities Index.

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