Picking a great launch site is often a key to a good ballooning activity. Ideally a large, dry grassy field with minimal downwind obstacles is best. Permission to use the field is needed, so be prepared to talk to a landowner.
Also, it is important to determine if good landing sites exist downwind from the launch location. Often pilots will choose from a number of locations based on where they would prefer to land.
Your pilot will generally select the launch site. You can help by:
- Asking for landowner permission to launch
- Get specific direction from landowner regarding where you can drive, how to get in and out, etc.
- Advise the pilot if you see wet areas, holes, livestock, or dogs
- Clear immediate site of loose debris, sharp objects, loose grass, etc.
- Advise the pilot of any "natural animal organic matter"
- Recognize downwind obstacles (trees, power poles/lines, towers)
- Reviewing the planned route of flight using a map