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Hot Air Balloon Training: Learning How To Fly A Hot Air Balloon

Learning to fly a hot air balloon is not straightforward; you really have to commit to the idea of ballooning. There are very few places that you can learn without owning a balloon and when you do get your license without a balloon, there are even less places to rent a balloon from.

At British School of Ballooning over the past 27 years we have trained many pilots. The majority of our pilots who complete the course either buy a balloon or join a syndicate with another balloonist local to them. Unfortunately 50% of the applicants never complete the course, realising after a few hours of training it’s not for them. Many of our trainees however have gone on to be excellent commercial pilots. If you’re thinking about training in hot air balloon flights you will need a huge amount of dedication and patience, especially dealing with the British weather.

Balloon Licensing

Licensing underwent a major change with the introduction of European licensing as from 7th April 2015. This means all training for a Private Pilots License must be done with a BBAC (British Balloon & Airship Club) approved instructor. Until then a student pilot can train with any licensed pilot and only need 4 instructor flights as a minimum.

Student pilots must complete 16 hours of training as a minimum, (though normally 25hrs is more realistic) completing a structured course, logging each flight and exercises in a BBAC training manual.

Ballooning Exams & Qualifications

During the training period five exams must be completed, Air Law, Navigation, Metrology, Human Performance & Limitations and finally Balloon Systems. These exams can be taken individually or altogether under the jurisdiction of a BBAC Examiner.

The flight test will be taken with an BBAC appointed examiner upon the suggestion of the BBAC Instructor. Finally you need to do a 30 minute solo before your license can be issued.

Please note that with the new European Licenses issued April 2015 onwards there may be some small changes to the outlined rules above.

We at BSB can provide balloon, crew, instructors and training books most of the time when you wish to fly, we always recommend training between April and October as the weather is generally more suitable.

We charge £145 per flight plus VAT for Instructor, balloon and crew for 2 students at one time. If you train with us on your own the cost increases to £220 plus VAT per flight. A flight will be based on one hours flying, though some maybe longer and others a little shorter.

Please contact our office for further details and to arrange a flight from Petworth West Sussex which is the only site we train students from, basic accommodation is also available there.

Chief pilot
Graeme Scaife