"The winds have welcomed you with softness, The sun has greeted you with its warm hands, You have flown so high and well, That God has joined you in laughter, And set you back gently into The loving arms of Mother Earth."
Becoming a Crew Person for a Hot Air Balloon pilot will give you valuable hands on experience in ballooning. There are basically two types of Balloon Crew; Private and Commercial.
A Private Balloon pilot who flies a Hot Air Balloon just for the sheer fun of it needs help from volunteers. Normally they are willing helpers who are willing to give up their time for the sport of ballooning. The pilot will offer on site training and help for a new crew person in exchange for their help to Launch and Retrieve the balloon.
A Commercial Balloon pilot makes their income from ballooning and are looking for a more trained and professional crew person. The crew person will get paid for their role but usually have to have experience in First Aid, LandOwner Relations, 4WD and Balloon handling.
What do Crew do?
Without balloon crew it is virtually impossible to fly a balloon. Their tasks include:
- Helping with Meteorological (The Met) forecasting.
- The layout and inflation of the balloon.
- Driving the retrieve vehicle after launch and following the balloon. This involves maintaining radio contact.
- Arrival at landing site and speaking to landowner.
- The pack up of the balloon.
How to become a Crew person.
I am going to concentrate on the Private side of Hot Air Ballooning for the moment. Just about every country and state have local Balloon Clubs – unless you already know someone with a balloon this is where you start. Under Links there are many Balloon Clubs. Find the closest.
Balloon clubs are a very social and fun part of ballooning. They provide the opportunity to learn and attend many ballooning events. There is always a pilot or two looking for new crew to help with their flights.
What equipment do you need?
Balloon flights are usually conducted at sunrise as that is when the winds are at their calmest. As a result it is usually cold and the paddocks are wet. A good set of sturdy boots and clothes are a must – long sleeves and long pants. As you will be handling ropes, a set of strong leather gloves are mandatory. A compass is also very useful to determine wind direction and balloon location. The balloon pilot will supply everything else such as CB radios and maps.
Check out our Essential Balloon Equipment Blog
If you wish to start your experience as balloon crew and would like us to connect you with a pilot register your details on our Contact Us page and we will try and help you get started.