Flying in an aerostat, or a balloon, which has recently been launched in St. Petersburg can hardly be called a tourist entertainment, rather, an adventure with bright shades of spontaneity and unpredictability. In this post we answer the questions: what can be seen from an aerostat in the center of St. Petersburg, how much it costs, what should be taken into account and whether it is scary (a spoiler – no).
Essentials To The Aerostat In St. Petersburg: Address, Price, Opening Hours, Tickets
Here are all the details in brief.
How the flight is executed: ground-tethered balloon rises vertically to a 150-metre altitude.
Duration of flight: 12-15 minutes, including the takeoff and landing. At the top point the aerostat stops, so you have several minutes to watch panoramas and take pictures. If there is no queue, a flight can last a little longer. This usually happens in the morning from 7.30 to 12.00.
Address: Pirogovskaya embankment, 5/2 (opposite the hotel Saint Petersburg), just a 15 minute walk away from Ploschad’ Lenina subway station.
Maximum number of people in the gondola: 17.
Age, weight and mobility restrictions: no. There was a passenger with a baby. And there was one passenger in a wheelchair. Children under 12 years old are to be accompanied by at least one of their relatives.
Restrictions: the flight can be canceled at any moment because of the strong wind, even when you have already entered the basket. Alas, it happens, though not often. Before you schedule a visit, be sure to call +7 (812) 317 73 07 and specify what the weather conditions are at the moment.
Drunk or drugged people are not allowed to use the aerostat.
What to wear: the same clothes you wear «on the ground».
Cost: 1500 rubles per an adult (140 cm and taller), 800 rubles per a child (up to 140 cm).
Do I get your money back if the flight is cancelled? Yes.
Contacts: http://en.aerolift.spb.ru/, phone +7 812 317 73 07 (every day from 10.00 to 20.00).
Where to buy tickets: at the ticket counter on-site.
Interesting Facts About The Balloon
The balloon is officially registered by the Russian Federal Agency of Air Transport as any aircraft, helicopter, airship etc. It operates in accordance with the Air Code of the Russian Federation with all the ensuing requirements for maintenance, safety and daily obtaining permissions for the flight. The technical staff also checks the equipment every day.
The control panel in the gondola of the balloon
The person, who rises together with you in the gondola and controls the aerostat, is officially called the pilot, namely the commander of the aircraft, and your float is officially called a flight.
The balloon with the volume of 3,200 cubic meters and the diameter of 18 meters is filled with helium.
A winch with a cable is held on the ground by concrete blocks with a total weight of 200 tons.
Aerostat Flight: Pictures and Feelings
Passengers get in the gondola, and the balloon begins to slowly rise up, turning people and cars down the aerostat microscopic midgets. The balloon swings slightly, the altitude after each meter becomes less abstract and more ‘material’, and, interestingly, the preflight jitters and a light buzz of adrenaline do not increase, but, on the contrary, disappear. A psychological effect works: the imagination always exaggerates the danger. When a person faces the reality, it turns out to be not so terrible or even not scary at all. Besides, why worry if there is no exit from the gondola? And the brain instantly switches to the beautiful sights overboard.
The balloon is floating
Later, the pilot told us that he has had thousands of flights on different balloons since 2001 in his practice, and there had been only two cases when passengers asked to stop the flight and return. The Aerolift has had no such episodes.
During the ascent, you are not allowed to walk in the gondola. After reaching the highest point and short negotiations with the land, the commander gives permission to move.
Is 150 meters above the ground a lot or a little? It seems that you are somewhere very far in the sky, as if flying in a helicopter. This is especially felt when you look at the houses, cars, and people below. Cars are still somehow visible, but people turn moving points. However, you quickly lose interest to them, because the 360 degrees landscape absorbs all your attention.
What can you see from the balloon?
Right in front of you, at arm’s length, the cruiser Aurora lies. We have a lot of photos of the ship from different points, and we can say that from a 150-metre height its shape looks absolutely different, even more majestic and graceful.
A bird’s-eye view of the cruiser Aurora
A little further you can see the Peter and Paul Fortress, and the effect is the same. You know that the fortress has the shape of a hexagon, each corner of which was built for the sake of safety in the form of a protruding pentagon. The full view of the fortress can be seen neither from land nor from water, but you’ll see it from the balloon.
View of the Peter and Paul Fortress
Slightly to the left the Neva is seen, including the most visited tourist place, bordered by the easternmost tip of the Vasilievsky island, called Strelka, the Palace embankment with the Hermitage, the Peter and Paul Fortress and Troitsky bridge.
The Neva and the most visited tourist places
Other objects perfectly visible from the aerostat are Liteynyy and Sampsoniyevskiy bridges, the dome of the mosque, a little further – the domes of St Isaac’s Cathedral, the Savior on the Spilled Blood Cathedral, and the spire of the Admiralty.
View of Liteynyy bridge and so-called Big house, the headquarter of the Federal Secret Service’s branch in St. Petersburg
St Isaac’s Cathedral and the Savior on the Spilled Blood Cathedral
On the horizon, there are two adjacent landmark buildings:
— the towers of Lakhta center, which is the headquarters of Gazprom and the highest building in Europe, it is also called ‘the ear of corn’ and ‘the tower of Sauron’, as it was named by the Director of the Hermitage Mikhail Piotrovsky and other locals;
— St Petersburg stadium on the Krestovsky island, which has a lot of nicknames.
Stadium on Krestovsky island and the Gazprom tower
In conclusion, we will answer the question whether it is worth flying in a balloon, if there is a colonnade of St. Isaac’s Cathedral with a 360-degree view (43 meters above the ground). In other words, what is the difference, and if there is none, why to pay more?
Our experience is as follows: there is a difference, and it is fundamental. It is the same as between watching a football match or performance on TV and going to the stadium or to the theater. They are just different genres. During the flight, you personally turn from a spectator into a participant in a small adventure.
Well, no one but you will take photos and videos to hit your Instagram followers’ imagination. As, for example, the video below:
P. S. Remember that the balloon works during sunlight period, and from late May to early July in St Petersburg, it lasts… almost all day. Thus, during the white nights with an appropriate wind you can float over the city at a 150 metre height.