Training

Balloon FAQs

 

Piloting

Balloon pilots are certified by the FAA, in the same manner as airplane pilots. They must take instruction, pass written and practical tests and be re-examined periodically. There are a number of flight schools with accelerated programs, but most pilots train with local balloonists. Generally, students earn lessons in exchange for crewing and attend a Ground School. This process may take years from the first lesson to the FAA check ride, but the journey is part of the fun. Some local pilots offer faster, more focused programs for a fee. Eventually, the student must pick a primary instructor, but training with a number of pilots is reccommended. If you aspire to be a pilot, your first step should be to book a ride or volunteer to crew. Contact the Membership Chairman or click on the Take a Flight link for a list of pilots in your area.

 

Crewing

No formal certification is required, but crew members are an essential component to every balloon flight. They assist in preparing the balloon for flight, managing the area after the launch, safely chasing (following) the balloon from the ground and finally packing up the equipment at the end of the flight. Following the balloon (chasing) can be very exciting and challenging. Many crews pride themselves in being at a landing site as the balloon touches down. The crew is usually has first contact with the landowners, and are therefore integral in maintaining good relations.

 

You don’t need previous experience to become part of a balloon crew. Most pilots gladly welcome all participants and provide training as needed. Expectations and procedures vary among pilots, but there are common core skills that you should acquire even if you do not aspire to be a crew chief. There are a number of publications dealing with the subject and GEBA offers a Crew Achievement Awards Program.

 

If you are interested in crewing, please contact the Membership Chairman. We will forward your request to the GEBA member pilot nearest to you. It would help us to know the geographical area where you would prefer to crew.

 

Continuing Education Seminar

GEBA runs a premier safety education program each year. Its purpose is to continue the educational process for balloonists and crew members and to make every flight safer. The seminar is open to GEBA members and non-members. In addition to the class sessions, there is a trade show with balloon-related products for sale.

 

Instruction

There are a number of flight schools with accelerated programs, but most pilots train with local balloonists. Generally, students earn lessons in exchange for crewing and attend a Ground School. This process may take years from the first lesson to the FAA check ride, but the journey is part of the fun. Some local pilots offer faster, more focused programs for a fee. Eventually, the student must pick a primary instructor, but training with a number of pilots is reccommended.

 

Weather

Ballooning is extremely weather dependent. A knowledge and understanding is key to safe flying. No pilot can be certified without demonstrating weather proficiency. Weather is covered extensively in Ground School and is part of the core curriculum at the Safety Seminar. Click on the above link for a sampling of balloon-related weather sites.

 

GEBA Crew Achievement Awards Program

These awards are independent of the Decker Award and are presented upon completion of various task levels. This program is for crew and student pilots who are members of GEBA. The program can be both an educational and fun way to enjoy ballooning. If you would like more information, please contact Jim Doerer at crewchief@gebaballoon.org or a GEBA Board member.

 

GEBA Junior Balloonist Camp Scholarship

This scholarship is presented in the spring to help offset the costs for attending one of that year’s Junior Balloonist Camps. To apply for the scholarship, applicants must be 13-18 years old, members of GEBA and must write an essay describing his or her ballooning experience and why he or she wants to attend balloon camp. The GEBA Board will read the essays, select a winner and announce the winner at the May meeting. The deadline for entries is March 30th. Please submit the essays to Jenn Goldbloom. Scholarship winners are required to do a presentation on their camp experience at the following November meeting. If you would like more information, please contact a GEBA Board member.

 

GEBA Memorial Scholarship

This scholarship is offered to a student hot air balloon pilot to help offset the costs of the Private Pilot Written Exam. This scholarship was conceived to honor the memory of those late GEBA members who played major roles in the training of new pilots. To apply for the scholarship, applicants must hold a student pilot certificate, be a GEBA member, and have taken and passed the Private Pilot Written Exam during the previous year (January 1 – December 31). The student pilot must have been a GEBA member in good standing for the year in which their exam is completed, and also when the scholarship is awarded at the current years May meeting. Note: due date for submitting their results is March 30th of the year following their exam.

 

GEBA Crew Training Day

The next GEBA Crew Training Day is tentatively slated for Spring 2017. Details will follow.