What are the necessary conditions for a hot air balloon launch in the Chicago area?
Safety is the primary consideration. Critical factors include good visibility, no thunderstorms, no strong winds and no strong vertical wind currents. A thunderstorm within 100 miles of the launch site, or even the risk of any precipitation, immediately terminates any thought of a flight. The air in a hot air balloon weighs up to four tons, a mass that takes skill to maneuver and for which strong or shifting winds are an absolute no-go. Pilots insist on winds under 10 mph. Winds aloft, up to several thousand feet, are also carefully monitored. Wind speeds above 18 to 24 mph at around 2,200 feet above this area’s terrain will cancel flight plans.