Have you ever dreamed of flying a balloon? Do you wonder how Conner Prairie's giant helium tethered balloon
works? If so, we have just the experience for you...
If you elect to join us for our Junior Aeronaut Premium Experience, you’ll learn to read the instruments, determine weather conditions and control the balloon. Then you’ll take a flight and help to fly the balloon! This experience is weather dependent. Price includes flight training experience and a Junior Aeronaut Certificate with wings. 1859 Balloon Voyage ticket sold separately.
Schedule: Available every flight, 1-2 Jr. Aeronauts per flight. Offered daily, 10-4:30 (Tues – Sat) and 11-4:30 (Sun). Excludes all special events.
Length of experience: 10-15 minutes
Instructor: One pilot will “instruct” 1-2 “aeronauts”
Availability: Open to anyone ages 3 and older
Cost: $10.00 per individual (1859 Balloon Voyage ticket sold separately)
Our trained pilots will walk you through weather basics and provide exciting information about balloon pilots (known as aeronauts in the 19th
-century) and the science and history of gas balloons.
Come fly with us!
Posted: 3/18/2011 1:27:32 PM
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With the Conner Prairie 1859 Balloon Voyage regular season now being over, it is appropriate to explain the answer to one of our most common questions out at the balloon, “What do you do with the balloon during the winter?”
One common misconception is that we deflate our balloon at the end of each season; however, this is not true. We leave the balloon inflated year-round for a number of reasons, but most importantly is the fact that it would cost somewhere around $60,000 in helium alone to re-fill in the spring. Not to mention a crew of about 50 people working somewhere close to 16 hours in addition to the filling of 400 sandbags, weighing 50 pounds each. Needless to say, it would be a rather labor-intensive process.
How does the balloon survive through the brutal Indiana winter climate? Believe it or not, the balloon is least likely to be damaged due to weather during the winter months due to a lack of strong wind storms and severe weather. The biggest threat, as you can probably guess, is snow. Snow typically accumulates on the top third of the balloon, which is roughly 6,000 square feet worth of space that needs snow removed. 6,000 square feet would be like shoveling an average width, 600 foot long driveway. You can imagine the amount of weight and stress this puts on the balloon, which is why it is important that we remove snow from the top of the balloon whenever it exceeds one inch of accumulation, as soon as possible.
How do we get the snow off the top of the balloon? It is a relatively simple, yet complex process. We have climbing gear which allows us to climb and traverse the balloon when needed for routine maintenance and repairs. We climb the balloon’s netting, like that of a rope ladder as we are connected to a series of climbing ropes. Once we reach the top of the balloon, we permanently anchor ourselves with a strong, thicker, stationary rope which we attached to a steel ring on the North Pole of the balloon. This allows us to move freely around the balloon without the fear of falling or ropes/climbing gear failing. To remove the snow we use a push broom or a shovel, and carefully push the snow off the side. An average, 4-6 inch snowfall will take somewhere between 2-4 hours to remove all of the snow.
You can learn more about our snow removal process and winter upkeep by watching a short YouTube clip we created last winter: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D8XvORNqIRY
Posted: 11/2/2010 3:46:53 PM
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Pamela Jackson - Guest Services
It’s September! The grass is crunchy from lack of rain, but the humidity is low, the sky is blue, and the hint of fall is beckoning me outdoors. So where am I? I’m stuck indoors staring at a pile of papers that need grading. I want to get outside and enjoy this glorious weather, but – and you knew there was a but – I have little time to spare because life gets in the way. I am a high school English teacher, working in an inner-city public school system in Indianapolis, and my day job eats away at my leisure time. I’m beginning to feel pale from all the time spent inside trying to decipher sophomore essays, and the only fresh air I get is what’s blowing through my open window.
Sometimes a person just has to push back from the computer and take a well-deserved break. Like a lot of stressed out folks in this economy, I desperately need a change of scenery and a breath of fresh air. Working weekends in Guest Services at Conner Prairie Interactive History Park is a welcome break from my daily routine, one I look forward to Monday through Friday.
We in Guest Services hope you will abandon your weekly responsibilities for a few hours, too. Grab the family and come on out for some well-deserved fun! Enjoy the historic exhibits; sample some apple concoctions from The Apple Store
; buy a trinket or book from the Store; talk to our historic interpreters as their characters prepare for the coming winter months; take a ride in our 1859 Hot Air Balloon
and breathe in the clean fresh air while enjoying the view at 350 feet.
There is so much to do here, and not only on the weekend. Despite our need for rain, the weather promises to be glorious for the remainder of this month. It would be a shame to spend the time indoors, so throw caution to the wind (pardon the cliché), forget about that work you brought home, and come on out to Conner Prairie. Hey – the summer is waning, but that paperwork will still be there Monday morning.
Posted: 9/23/2010 2:55:18 PM
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Many guests that visit Conner Prairie look forward to taking a flight in our tethered gas (helium) balloon in our 1859 Balloon Voyage exhibit
. Quite commonly guests mistake our gas balloon for a hot air balloon. While there are many similarities and differences between our gas balloon and modern hot air balloons, some of the most noticeable differences and similarities are the feelings experienced in flight.
The third weekend in Sept. will mark the 10th anniversary of my first hot air balloon flight and the beginning of my student pilot certification, which would make it entirely appropriate for me to explain some of the differences and similarities experienced when flying in each type of balloon.
One of the most common misconceptions after flying in our gas balloon, particularly when it is windy and the balloon slowly sways across the sky, is that a hot air balloon would sway, rock and feel unsteady because it is free from a cable. Interestingly enough, hot air balloons in free flight are extremely stable.
This is due to the fact you are traveling with the wind in a hot air balloon. You could essentially hold a candle while flying in a hot air balloon and no matter how fast you’re traveling the candle shouldn’t flicker.
One profound similarity that our gas balloon and hot air balloons share is a spectacular view! Our balloon can go to a maximum ride height of 387 feet, while hot air balloons, on average, go up to around 1,000 - 2,000 feet. Surprisingly though, the view from either height is essentially the same. Indiana is a very flat state, making it difficult to see much further than about 40 miles on even the clearest days, in both hot air balloons and our gas balloon.
There are several similarities and differences between both balloons, which is why flying in the Conner Prairie 1859 Balloon Voyage gas balloon is such a truly unique experience! Do you have a favorite experience flying in our balloon?
Posted: 9/13/2010 2:55:06 PM
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When I tell folks that I work at Conner Prairie, nine times out of 10 the first thing they say to me is, “I’ve been to the Symphony on the Prairie
Conner Prairie’s collaboration with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
(ISO) for the popular summer concert series has been a fixture in central Indiana since 1982. Sponsored by Marsh Supermarkets
for a number of years, over 100,000 people every year enjoy picnic dinners, beautiful music, fireworks (on a few special nights) and a great view of “the prairie” behind the symphony shell. These evenings are special times for families, friends and co-workers to relax and enjoy world-class music in a picturesque setting.
While the organization and event are driven by the ISO, Conner Prairie does play some key roles in making the concerts successful. Below are three important Conner Prairie contributions that I thought would be interesting to share.
-While the concerts are amazing experiences for those who come, they represent a unique challenge for our facilities staff in particular who devote many hours to keeping the grounds looking nice and to helping park cars and direct traffic. These essential jobs are often unnoticed (or worse, unappreciated) but the relative ease with which the upwards of 5,000 people on one night get in and out of a three-lane exit onto a two-lane road is a testament to the superb job the Conner Prairie facilities team does in managing the grounds for the event. In addition, the grass, restrooms and parking lot are immaculate due to the facilities staff diligence and attention to detail.
-Another department that plays a key role during Symphony on the Prairie is food service. They operate the Prairie Grill at the top of the hill, which serves a wide range of food and drink options, in addition to wine and beer, which was added to their selection this season. Patrons who either don’t have time to pack a picnic or need a dessert or more food can visit the Prairie Grill to enjoy the great selections there.
-If you happened to see a large, glowing beach ball in the sky on weekend evenings these past two months, it wasn’t a UFO, it was 1859 Balloon Voyage
! Our tethered helium balloon flies during Symphony on the Prairie (weather permitting) and has been a popular addition to the experience for Symphony goers. It is truly magical to fly in the balloon as the sun is setting or when it is dark and the city below is lit up with thousands of lights. The balloon pilot and crew have also been able to get guests excited about the rest of Conner Prairie’s offerings and have shared with guests the intriguing history of ballooning in the 1800s. I’ll never forget the applause and sheer joy that guests expressed after the fireworks flights during the Fourth of July symphonies earlier this year.
Please share your Symphony on the Prairie memories and don’t forget that the concert series lasts through the second weekend of September, so come on out and enjoy one and maybe even fly in the balloon! And I’m sure the folks with the traffic cones and brown shirts in the parking areas would appreciate a “thank you” for their efforts as well….
Posted: 8/5/2010 8:59:14 AM
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