Balloons Aloft and Horses

The Balloon Festival starts on Saturday 11 March and ends 19 March.  The balloons will take off by the lake from about 6:45 so they will be in the air early. It’s taken some nagging but the following information has been provided in regarding to balloon flights over Equestrian Park and Government Horse Paddocks.

The event managers are aware that there will be two large equestrian events at Equestrian Park over the course of the Balloon Spectacular and pilots will be briefed accordingly.

Please pass this information on to your members asap.

The flight height for all paddocks public and private is 500ft and Equestrian Park 1,000 ft. For some reason they still deal in old measurements. All horse agistment properties are included on the pilots’ sensitive zone maps. This is a message from the Events ACT:


The below information has gone into our pilot handbook and will be briefed to the pilots and crew each day –

  1. Government Horse Holding Paddocks (HHP)

There are a number of horse agistment complexes throughout the ACT as depicted on the Sensitive Zones (SZ) map.

Clients who agist their horses in these paddocks could be attending or riding their horses at any time of the day, particularly early in mornings before going to work.

Low flying balloons, particularly the sound of the burners, and landing balloons are not compatible with safety for horses or riders.

At all times, operators will adhere to the height restriction as designated on the Sensitive Zone (SZ) List (pg 18) when flying over HHP and Equestrian Park, as shown on the SZ Topographic Map.

It should also be noted that Equestrian Park is a public park and any person could be in any part of the Park on a horse at any time, potentially obscured from sight by trees. Consequently, Equestrian Park should be a no-go area at all times except in emergencies. If pilots are forced to land they should assume there could be riders on the grounds and aim to land in clear open space well away from any horses.

If access to a horse paddock is required by support crews, access will be gained by contacting the Flight Safety Officer who in turn will contact the site manager to grant approval.

Do not cut fences, break padlocks or remove any infrastructure to gain access to any of the horse paddocks at the Equestrian Park.

  1. Ballooning Near Horse Establishments

Horses are large animals that can be frightened by the noise of balloon gas burners, or balloons that they don’t see approaching. The consequence of a horse being frightened is that a rider could be thrown and injured, or the horse bolting through fences onto busy roadways and colliding with a motor vehicle.

  1. Landing in HHP and Equestrian Park should be only in the case of an emergency.
  2. If landing in HHP or Equestrian Park is unavoidable, the following conditions must be adhered to:
  • Balloons will land in a paddock free of horses
  • Balloons will land short of horses rather than overflying horses, experience has shown that landing short of horses rather than flying low over horses in an adjoining paddock is an acceptable and reasonable safety precaution
  1. Horses find the noisy gas burners even scarier than the balloons themselves, so minimum burner noise should be practiced.
  2. Access to a horse paddock by support crews will be gained by contacting the Flight Safety Officer who in turn will contact the site manager.
  3. Access to paddocks must not be gained by cutting fences, breaking locks or removing boulders near gateways.
  4. Access into the HHP complexes must not be gained with any key possessed by the pilot, or the balloon company, unless permission is granted by contacting the Flight Safety Officer xx
  5. To gain access to any of these paddocks, for the purpose of balloon retrieval, may incur an after-hours call out fee from Territory Agistment which will be charged to the pilot.


If I receive any more info I will include it here.


Christine Lawrence


ACT Equestrian Association

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