Balloon launch sites on the South Downs

We fly our hot air balloon in two areas of the South Downs National Park. South Downs West launch sites are at Chichester, West Meon, Petersfield, Fernhurst or Farnham. And South Downs East Brighton, Wisborough Green, Worthing or Cowfold. Within these two areas we choose on the day or previous evening the best launch site from which to achieve a safe flight.

In both areas our aim is to afford our hot air balloon passengers a magnificent view of the chalk backbone of the South Downs National Park which has been carved and crafted by the winds and rain into hills and valleys. Plus the adjoining coast with its inlets and islands.

Prevailing winds

The prevailing winds used to be from the South West but in recent years have become less predictable. This makes our flight planning more difficult and is the reason why we have four or five alternative sites within each area. Whether the changing winds is as a result of Global Warming we are not qualified to say.

Morning balloon flights

After a clear night, even in mid summer the South Downs will be cooler than the adjoining English Channel. Air will be rising over the sea and drawing air in from the land. The result will be an offshore breeze which would take a hot air balloon out to sea. So any launch site on the coast are restricted to evening flights only, see below.

Evening balloon rides

In the evenings the reverse is true. The land of the South Downs National Park heats up faster than the English Channel. Air rises and draws more air in from the sea creating an onshore breeze. But this effect is only up to 1,500 feet and above that the gradient winds endure.

Map showing launch sites in Hampshire and West Sussex All our hot air balloon rides launch siteB=Balloon launch sites: Across the South Downs National Park from East Hampshire through West Sussex