Riding in a wicker basket 1,000 feet above ground may sound a little unsettling, but Duer assured that it’s safe. Not just anyone can take passengers up in a balloon. Operators must has commercial pilot’s licenses.
He said balloons have to be inspected annually or after every 100 hours of use. Any necessary repairs must be made by an FAA certified aircraft mechanic. For example, Duer said if he lost a bolt, he couldn’t run to the hardware and replace it. He’d have to take the craft to a certified technician who could only install an approved bolt. Even the specialty balloon fabric has to undergo annual strength testing.
His passengers must feel confident because Duer said they often book with him to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries or some other special occasion. Some try to target a specific date, but with higher-than-normal winds in Oklahoma City being common, sometimes patience is in order.
“Sometimes we can meet those (target dates) and sometimes we can’t,” he said. “We have to try to target that date, but fly the first available date afterward. Usually I can take them within a few days … it’s a wind thing.”
For more information on ballooning with Duer, visit okcballoonsaloft.com or visit OKC Balloons Aloft on Facebook. Call 698-2900 for pricing and to schedule a ride.