Tethered hot-air ballooning and the BSA

Ready to take your pack, troop, team, or crew to new heights?

Schedule a ride in a tethered hot-air balloon. The activity, which previously wasn’t approved, was officially OK’d this week by the BSA’s Health and Safety team.

Notice I said tethered hot-air ballooning — not the kind where you ride for miles like the Wizard of Oz. Unlike traditional hot-air ballooning, the tethered variety uses at least three lines connected to the ground to keep the balloon from moving horizontally. The BSA has set the maximum permitted height at 70 feet.

Now, don’t go buying a balloon and trying this yourself. The balloon must be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, and the pilot must be certified and insured.

Before planning a ride, familiarize yourself with some key requirements:

Tethered hot-air ballooning key requirements

  • Tethered balloon events must comply with all FAA regulations and BSA requirements.
  • A minimum open area of 200 feet by 200 feet clear of all obstructions and overhead power lines, light poles, and fences is necessary for safe inflation.
  • The owner of the property selected as a suitable tether or launch site must grant permission in writing.
  • The balloon must be secured to the ground with tether lines from at least three separate locations on the perimeter of the tether site using poles, trees, or vehicles as attachment points. These attachment points must be capable of supporting several thousand pounds of force.
  • Tether lines must be at least 5/8-inch nylon rope (load strength of 8,800 pounds) and in good condition.
  • Tethered rides may rise to a maximum height of 70 feet.
  • The tether event must occur between the hours of sunrise and sunset (tethers are best completed in the early morning hours, before 10 a.m.).
  • The balloon must be registered with the FAA.
  • The pilot must hold a commercial certification, be properly rated on the aircraft, and must be onboard when passengers are carried. The pilot and balloon must carry insurance in the amount of $1 million, and the BSA must be named as an additional insured on the policy. (This may require additional pre-planning for the event).
  • Waivers must be provided for the passengers and crew in advance of the event.
  • Any age limit will be set at the pilot’s discretion.

For the BSA’s complete guide to tethered hot-air ballooning, click here.

About Bryan Wendell 3269 Articles
Bryan Wendell, an Eagle Scout, is the founder of Bryan on Scouting and a contributing writer.