How do you learn to fly a hot air balloon?

We are often asked if the clients can fly the balloon themselves, or can anybody jump in and fly. This is brought about by the romantic nature of hot air balloons in films such as Around the World in 80 days and the James Bond 007 films. To fly hot air balloons for business purposes you need a commercial pilots license. This can take 2 or more years to get, with additional exams.

If you are keen on getting your license, for private or commercial purposes, these notes will guide you through the process, and Classic Hot Air Balloons can provide the equipment and the instructors.

Although its technically not very difficult, not much more than driving with an extra dimension for example, but you have the additional complication of exams on complex subjects as weather, navigation, human medical matters etc. Depending on the amount of spare time you have, and how that coincides with suitable hot air balloon flying weather will dictate how long it will take. One to two years is typical however it can be done in a month to gain a private license, and another 2 to 5 years to become a commercial pilot.

License requirements

A hot air balloon is a registered aircraft, the same as any aeroplane or helicopter. As such the person in command must hold a valid Private Pilot's Licence issued by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) specifically for ballooning; this is known as the PPL(B).

A pilot of an aircraft is a responsible task, and you are responsible for the safety of your passengers and for property and people on the ground

Private Pilot (PPL) requirements

Commercial Balloon Licences (CPL)

There are two types of commercial balloon licences: CPL(B) Restricted and CPL(B) (Full).

The CPL(B) Restricted is required if you are undertaking advertising work for a sponsor or being paid to operate a balloon. You can fly a sponsored balloon as long as you contribute your share of the direct flying costs with a PPL but as soon as the sponsor asks you to attend any event or you are given free flying or paid then you need a CPL(B) Restricted.

CPL(B) Restricted Licence requirements:

The CPL(B) is required if you are flying passengers for money or if your sponsor wants you to fly people for him. The balloon then needs a transport category C of A (certificate of air worthiness).

CPL(B) Licence requirements:

Other courses you will need to undertake is First Aid in the workplace or appointed persons. Fire fighting with portable extinguishers. Radio telephony to talk to your ground crew and air traffic control (ATC)

Training in the UK

 You will need a NPPL Medical Declaration signed by your GP to ensure that you are fit to learn to fly.

With the adoption of EASA European harmonisation of licences, the above will be changing. This will be updated as things are implemented be the UK CAA and EASA 

Contact Glen on 01622 858956 or to arrange the course that's right for you.




How to learn to fly a hot air balloon

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