School FAQ

 Outdoor Inflations

How much space is required for an outdoor inflation?
A.  Something like half a football field.  Or 150 feet by 150 feet, free of obstacles and powerlines.  Preferably a grassy surface.  A smaller space might work, but might be affected by wind direction or speed on the day of the program.

Does the outdoor space need to be accessible to a vehicle?  What sort of truck does the balloon come in?
A.  The balloon is carried in a pickup truck or in a trailer behind an SUV.  The vehicle needs to drive to the exact spot where the balloon will be inflated.  So of course the ground needs to be firm and dry enough for that to happen.

What if we only want an outdoor inflation?
A.  We can never guarantee the wind and weather will permit an outdoor inflation on any particular day.

What are the weather requirements for an outdoor inflation?
A.  To inflate a balloon outdoors, we need not only a nice day in the sense of no precipitation, we also need calm or very light winds.  So the right time of day for balloon operations is either sunrise or near sunset.   But when we are dealing with school hours, we schedule outdoor inflations as early as possible in the morning, as soon as you can have the student body assembled and ready.

How many people can take a ride?
A.  If weather is nice and wind is calm, the balloon can lift one or two people besides the pilot.  Our usual schedule allows time for two or three trips up and down.  But realize that any time the wind picks up we may have to discontinue the operation.  So never promise any given number of rides.  Remember, the purpose of this program is education, not rides.  And most schools tell us, “Don’t even think about taking our students up in a balloon!”, so usually it is the principal or a couple teachers who go up.  Students get very excited seeing someone they know go up!

If the weather is bad, can you come another day?  Can we plan a rain date?
A.  Our schedule is often very tight.  For us to devote another date to your school, we would have to charge for each date.

Indoor inflations

How much space is required for an indoor inflation?
A.  This demonstration is amazingly flexible.  It can be done in a surprisingly small space.  If the audience can be seated on half the floor space of the room, the program will go smoothly.  If the audience fills the room, it will still work.
If we have a large gym the balloon will inflate fully.  It will then accommodate approximately 500 students.
If we are in a smaller room, as the balloon inflates it will stop inflating when it reaches the walls or the ceiling.

The ceiling of our multipurpose room is not very high.  Can we still do an indoor inflation?
A  Yes.  As the balloon inflates, when it reaches the ceiling it will simply rest against the ceiling and stop inflating.

Can we have both outdoor and indoor inflations, so our students can get to see how a balloon actually works, and still get to go inside it?
A.  Yes, we can do both outdoor and indoor inflations if we are doing an all-day program.

What would be the advantage of an all-day program?
A.  With an all-day schedule we can do both an outdoor and an indoor inflation.  We can also break the school into smaller groups and do as many as 3 or 4  programs, for more focused teaching.  Or we might use the extra time to visit individual classrooms or grade levels.

Slide talk

What topics are covered?
A.  This talk is focused on how balloons work and what they do.  It touches on a little history (the beginning of Aviation), some elementary science, character training, language arts, etc.

Can you focus on a specific topic  for our career day or red ribbon week, or science fair, or reading program or field day?
A.  Yes, if you wish, we can easily connect this talk with red ribbon week, a science fair, a reading program, or another theme.

Can you present to specific classrooms or grade levels on certain topics?
A.  Yes, we are glad to work with smaller groups as time allows.

Will you keep the attention of Kindergarten or Pre-K students?
A.  If possible, it is good to have younger ages in groups by themselves.  Then we can shorten the program for them.  But at the end of the slide talk we show some special shape balloons (animals, a dinosaur, etc.) so if the attention of the little ones has wandered, we get it back!

General questions

What age is this program suited for?
A.  Kindergarten through Kiwanis.  (We often make presentations to adult groups like service organizations, etc)  The facts we present are interesting to any age group.  But the age level of the audience will determine  our presentation.  We will shorten our talk for younger groups.  Older groups will absorb more detail, science, etc.

How many students can be accommodated?
A.  2 to 2,000.  Some schools may need an all-day schedule for multiple programs.  Smaller groups and narrower age ranges within groups allow more focused attention from the presenter.

What if we are located outside of NY State?
A.  We have pilot/presenters based in Western NY and in New Jersey.  So we are very available throughout the Northeast US.  We also make frequent trips around the Eastern US.  Once in awhile we even get to the West Coast.  Call to see when we can get to you.  If you schedule several months ahead, we may be able to design a trip to your area.  When doing this, you may be able to help assure the trip by helping recruit other schools in your area.

How do we arrange for you to come to our school?
A.  A phone call is best.  We will customize our program to your school’s size, facilities, and interests.  Some questions can also be answered by e-mail.

Does your price include travel and lodging?
A.  Yes, unless we have to travel an excessive distance to get to you.

Are there supporting materials available?
A.  Yes, see “Resources for Teachers” on this website.

How far in advance do we need to book the program?
A.  The sooner you book, the more certain you are that we can come on the date you want.  Sometimes a last-minute booking is possible too.
Spring is our busiest season.  Fall is next, while winter is less heavily scheduled (hence, less expensive.)

Can we ask a neighboring school to share the day?
A.  Yes.  We will take this into account as we lay out our plans for the day.

Can you stay at our school for our family day (or science fair, etc) in the evening?
A.  Yes, if our travel schedule allows.  The charge will be for an additional 1/2 day.  If weather cooperates, we might be able to give a lot of tethered rides in the evening.

What does the school need to supply?
A.  This will be outlined in our confirmation letter.  We are mostly self-contained.  But our pilot/presenter travels alone.  He will depend on some able-bodied volunteers to help inflate.  He will have his own projector but will use your screen for showing slides, and your PA system for the slide talk.