Learning to fly a hot air balloon
Have you ever wondered what qualifications are needed to fly a hot air balloon, and how you go about gaining them?

Ballooning can often be thought of as a sport to which only a few lucky people get the opportunity to enter, but this is far from the truth.

Learning to fly

If you want to move on to flying we will be happy to help:

To fly a balloon you will need a Pilotís Licence.

To fly yourself and friends you need a Private Pilotís Licence (PPL)

To fly passengers or fly for a company you need a Commercial Pilotís Licence (CPL).

We'll just deal with the PPL here.

Licence Requirements

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

Although anyone with average ability can fulfil the requirements for the PPL(B) outlined below, it is not an activity to be taken lightly. As a pilot you must be sufficiently competent at operating the balloon and have such knowledge to be able to cope with any problems or circumstances that may arise. In addition you will be responsible for the lives of the people you might carry in the basket.

PPL requirements

To qualify for a PPL(B), an applicant must:

  • Have flying experience of at least 16 hours within the preceeding 24 months.

  • Have undertaken a minimum of 6 flights

  • Have made a minimum of 4 flights with a BBAC approved Instructor; the rest may be with any valid PPL(B) holder

  • Keep a flight log with flight training records completed by the instructing pilot.

  • Keep a BBAC training log; this is a requirement of the BBAC not the CAA.

  • Be recommended by a BBAC approved Instructor for a flight test.

  • Undertake a flight test examination with a CAA approved Examiner.

  • Perform a solo flight under the supervision of the Examiner or an instructor delegated by the Examiner.

  • Take written examination in Aviation Law, Navigation, Meteorology, Balloon Systems and Human Performance.

  • Medical declaration of fitness signed by your GP. Some GPs will require an examination.

  • Attend an approved Landowner Relations Seminar.

  • Complete the written examinations and flight test within a 24 month period.

Do not be daunted, the standard required is based on common sense, not academic brilliance!
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