Thursday, June 09, 2011

Pilot Wanted in Wadi Rum, Jordan

Ready for something exotic? The Royal Aerosports group in Jordan is looking for a balloon pilot for the spring and fall seasons. Here's the deal:

Balloon Pilot wanted to fly over the Beautiful Deserts of Wadi Rum; the home of the Incense trail and Lawrence of Arabia. We have two balloons, one 5 seat (Kubicek) and one 16 seat (Ultra-Magic). Must have at least 500 hours flight time. Great Pay, food and accommodation included. It is a seasonal position from March-June and Sept.-Dec.

Basmah Bani Ahmad

Balloon Pilot Job in Kenya

A Kenyan ballooning company is seeking Pilots for Kenya, East Africa, based passenger ride operations. Fly over beautiful terrain in Amboseli National Wildlife Park.

Here's the details:

East African, Kenyan ballooning company is seeking Pilots for passenger ride operations.

Here's your chance to fly a Cameron 315 over the stunning wildlife of Kenya's Amboseli National Park in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Our flying season extends year round, thus it is a year round opportunity with preference for long-term relationship. Option for business partnership with the right person is open for discussion. Visit our web site at

This is a year round position with food and lodging. We will also obtain all necessary work permits.

Minimum of 500 hours logged in flight time required. Big balloon experience, demonstrable flying abilities, and sound decision making skills are an obvious requirement. Also important are attitude, personality, and the ability to consistently get the job done without oversight and without sacrificing safety. A pilot who is entertaining, creative and personable, with outstanding flying skills in showing our guests the best professional ballooning can offer. Pilot licensed in maintenance is an added advantage. Food and accommodation is provided. For additional information please contact:

Bhavisha Patel (917) 576-0148 (U.S.A) or email; or

Kirit Patel 0797-414-4928 (U.K)
Rommy 011-254-72218340 (Kenya)
Harp Bamrah :

All Inquiries will be treated confidentially.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Malaysia Balloon Festival

The International Balloon Festival will be held from May 9 to May 11 at Dataran Bandaraya, Johor Baru. This event features 10 pilots with balloons from around the world. It is hoped that besides putting Johor on the world map, the festival would boost the state’s tourism industry.

Malaysia Balloon FestivalPilots are excited about coming to Johor as balloon festivals were previously held only in Kuala Lumpur. The attractions to watch for include a night display of illuminated hot air balloons and a race from Dataran Bandaraya to Bandar Nusajaya.

You can read about the event here, and find other balloon festivals in Asia.

Besides the balloon displays, other events include skydiving, paragliding, rock climbing, paintball and go-kart races.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

New Weather Stations

weatherA new online learning option is Liberty Balloon School. Bill Hughes found how to tap into a giant network of government weather stations that aren't part of our aviation system. He put together a narrated course on how to find and use their data online. His free online course is at:

You'll have to decide which is more impressive, Bill's course sharing the subtleties of using the RAWS system, or the weather data itself. It does hint at what's possible for more online balloon training. It's pretty cool, adding hundreds of government weather reporting stations in most states.

Liberty Balloon School also has several additional free programs available, plus their online balloon ground school.

Skybound Balloon Gifts

skybound balloons model
Balloonists love the clever model balloons from Skybound Balloons, so it was a surprise to learn they were discontinuing production. The founder is retiring and has sold the last of the stock to Full A Hotair creating an opportunity for collectors to complete their sets before they're all gone.

At this point most of the balloons are still available, plus the balloon ornaments and picture frames. Rumor is they may even have some items never sold to the public, serious collectors will have to call to inquire.

The colorful balloons make a great gift for pilots and crew, with prices ranging from $12 to $40. If you've always wanted one but never got around to it, now's the time.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Padded Tank Covers

When the landings get fast, knees and other body parts are at risk of getting bruised banging into the metal fuel tanks in a balloon basket. So many pilots outfit their system with padded tank covers to protect themselves and their passengers. This works quite well.

Padded tank covers for a hot air balloonMost balloon fuel tank covers have a sheet of foam padding against the tank, and a layer of cordura nylon on the outside. This is a tough, durable combination that stays clean and looks good.

Some balloon manufacturers supply tank covers as an extra cost item, or include them with fancier systems. These generally work fine, but tend to be rather bland. Aftermarket options have a little more sizzle and the builder can add extra touches like pockets or artwork to your specifications. As tieing the drawstrings at the top & bottom can be tough, look for ones with elastic at one end.

Check out the balloon accessories catalog at Stumpf Balloons where you'll find they have padded tank covers for any size balloon propane tank. Even lists the prices.

A little color coordination between the basket trim and tank covers can really make a basket look great.

If you want the ultimate in luxury, then you need to get padded leather tank covers. These look extremely classy and feel good too. You won't find them mentioned on the Stumpf website, but if you ask he'll build them. At an extra cost, of course. Ordering a new balloon? Have them ship some extra leather from the same die-batch as the basket trim to ensure a perfect color match.

Leather scuffs easier than cordura, but it's sooo much nicer!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

New 3 day BalloonCast Option

They've added a 3 day forecast option for ballooncasts. Shown graphically every 3 hours, it's focused on balloooning needs, so winds and dewpoint spread come first. It also shows ceiling, the odds of rain or snow, and a few other things.

At the bottom of the screen there are radar, winds, and weather map images, plus a cool local airspace map that you can click on and zoom about kind of like google earth.

3day ballooncast imageAvailable now for all U.S. locations, just go to: 3day BalloonCast and click on any state. At the bottom of the state menu page you'll see a new option for the 3day 4cast. Choose your nearest airport, and click "Get 4cast".

This is most useful for planning a flight a few days out. The data is from the National Weather Services GFS MOS product. This webpage is heavy on graphics, so it might not be much fun on a dialup connection. But it's great as a quick picture of what the flying weather will be like the next few days.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Balloon Pilot Job in Pennsylvania

A friend tells me of an opening with the company he flies for in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania, said to be a great flying area. He'd be a great guy to work and fly with. The job runs from May thru October of 2008.

The Company:
  • Commercial ride operator since 1987
  • Flies 2 Lindstrand 150K balloons
  • Also flies Aerostar 105, 90, and 77K balloons
  • New equipment on order for the 2008 season
Pilot Wanted:
  • Minimum flight time 1000 hours with 300 hours in 140K's or larger
  • A Professional working relationship with clients
  • Excellent salary. With room and vehicle if required. With days off.
  • May through October, 2008
If interested please contact Rick Schimpf at

Friday, November 17, 2006

Balloon Fiesta Photos

Most photos we see of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta are taken on the ground, from the launch field. Here's a few looking back at the field from the air, as the balloon climbs away. You can click on the pictures for a larger view.

The magic is being up in the air with balloons rising up towards you at every altitude. A good box makes it possible to cycle around the field and enjoy the dramatic view for a couple hours.

My favorite spot is to be about a mile above the ground, a little northeast of the launch field. As the sun rises over the Sandia Mountains you're right where maximum light and color brilliance is reflected back towards you. Hundreds of balloons spread out below and before you, all shining their brightest.

The official balloon fiesta website has more pictures, plus find other balloon festivals and pictures of balloons. The biggest event in ballooning starts the first Saturday in October, and runs for 9 days. Don't miss it, and if you can't bring a balloon, be sure to crew for one.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Describe A Typical Balloon Ride?

A quote from Dave Williams, primary pilot for Hudson Valley Enchanted Balloon Tours in New York on what it's like up there:

Describe a typical balloon ride? It can't be done!

I've tried many times, but have finally given up trying to describe the experience of a hot air balloon ride. That is why there are so many adjectives used in trying to describe a balloon flight: exhilarating, beautiful, amazing, breathtaking, spectacular, etc. Unfortunately, these words come way short, and still don't capture the essence of a hot air balloon ride. As a pilot, I have been up hundreds of times and those words don't work for me and don't begin to describe the wonder of hot air ballooning.. You never get bored or take flying for granted no matter how many times you've been up...

What actually happens during a balloon ride is that the pilot and crew inflate the balloon, the passengers get in the gondola as the pilot brings the balloon to flight temperature. The balloon gently lifts off of the grass, but if your eyes were not open, you would not be aware that you have lifted off of the ground. Many times a passenger will be talking or fiddling with a camera and remark: "Oh, we are off the ground." A balloon ride is not like flying a plane, glider, hang-glider, or skydiving. It is serene and quiet and slow, an experience unlike any other. Fly with us and experience your hot air balloon ride for yourself. --Dave

You can find more on Dave's website, arrange a flight with him, or look over his Why Take Your Balloon Ride With Us page. Or, here are additional options for balloon rides in New York.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

There's nothing else like it.

Pat Muir, a reporter for the Yakima Herald Republic wrote a charming article titled: Hot air balloon ride is a stunner for first-timer after flying at the Great Prosser Balloon Rally.

There's a certain quirky sense of humor, and no shying away from sensational details. The opening and closing sums up the challenge of describing the magic of a balloon flight:
Everyone I ask about riding hot air balloons says the same thing: "There's nothing else like it."

"Whatever," I think.

As if balloonists are privy to something so wonderful it can't even be reasonably compared to anything else.

......So, the reporter takes a balloon ride as part of the event. After all the details of the flight he explains:

I start thinking about what I'll write. I don't really know how to describe ballooning's simultaneous sensations of serenity and excitement. The feeling of floating around in a hot air balloon is unique.

There's nothing else like it.

If you decide to go too, the Great Prosser Balloon Rally is held at the end of September in Washington State. Or try any of these other balloon festivals around the USA or a local balloon ride nearer home. There's nothing else like it.

Also check out what makes balloon flight special.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Edmonton Balloon Club

There's a great article in the Ottawa Citizen and The Edmonton Journal newspapers on the joys of a good balloon club. Titled It Takes More Than Hot Air to get Balloon Club Off the Ground it's about the club's role in training lots of local pilots, general requirements for learning to fly, the typical conditions need for flight, and the thrill of the chase for the crew.

Wondering what role a good club can play in the ballooning community? This gives a pretty good idea, and we could use more clubs like Edmonton's, where passing the torch plays a big role.

Here are the direct links for the Edmonton Balloon Club's website, and a directory of balloon clubs around the world. Check out your local group. It's great fun and you can learn a lot.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Unusual Chase Vehicles

Today we'll consider some exciting new options to "Pimp your Chase Vehicle" which should really excite your crew. So here's the top ten list:

10. The Short Bus goes anywhere and carries everyone from a 210. No worries about a little mud or snow. Designed for winter balloon retrieves in Antarctica. Really.

[click photos to zoom]

9. This full-tracked chase vehicle zips through water 4 feet deep. If your pilot has a little trouble landing on islands or in swamps this could be just the ticket. Not good enough? Get the full amphibious option and she'll float.

8. And now for something purple. If you're from Ohio, have a sunny disposition and are, well, quite shapely, this has your name all over it.

Recommended accessory: Tommy Lift, in purple.

7. The Jetson's will be jealous when you pull up to the launch field in this futuristic chase commander. Streamlined, powerful, fuel cell powered. The good news is no more calls to the authorities reporting a "balloon crash" as all the lines are jammed with reports of UFOs & an alien invasion.

Bonus: the bug eyes let the crew see in every direction including up.

6. On a budget? This classic Iranian interpretation of an ancient Citroen has high miles and is well broken in. Mechanical skills and metric tools a plus, but no need to worry about scraping the paint. Buyer pays shipping from Iran.

5. If you're crew is always horsing around while your flying instead of tracking the balloon, and then has to gallop off to the landing site, this fuel efficient chase vehicle should help them jockeying for position with the other crews.

A crowd favorite at balloon festivals.

4. Per Lindstrand could have used one of these balloon-tired, all wheel drive, insulated trucks after flying the Pacific. They're like an articulated bus, with passengers riding in the box and bouncing around. Reports are that the box is quite cozy, the windows small and easily fogged so you never see out. Snowy tundra no obstacle.

Those riding in the back may want to consider bringing dramamine, as many get seasick. There are sick bags in the box for such occasions.

3. You can't beat a name like Ivan the Terra Bus. Huge wheels, unlimited crew carrying capacity, go anywhere capability, and a ride smoother than your landings. If you fly special shape balloons, this is your rig.

A minor quibble: fuel efficiency is not Ivan's middle name.

2. Real men have always preferred Pickups. Best invention since the quarter horse and hot air balloon, pick up trucks carry any load and look good doing it. Traditionally they went almost anywhere. These clever tracks mean there's no more almost.

Best of all, it's easy to convert your current ride.

1. In the age of OPEC and pricey gas, the chase vehicle of the future is all about fuel efficiency without sacrificing go-anywhere flexibility. This self-refueling recovery vehicle is not easily cowed by any sheikh, and that's no bull.

Bonus: never get yelled at by the crew for leaving the tank on E, she'll refuel on the field while you inflate.

Ok, you're sold on one of these sexy new chase vehicles. Where can you get one? Talk to Barry DiLibero who's done a lot stranger things with paint.

Honorable Mention:
Ok, now the crew won't be seen in public with you anymore, time to get a steam powered bicycle. Strap it to the outside of the basket, fire it up from the burner after landing, and you're on your way home.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Coastal Maine Ballooning Business Opportunity

A friend who's been running a successful ride business for the last 20 years has contacted me with an interesting opportunity. He's very respected, has earned corporate and celebrity contracts, and kept his friends along the way. He's thinking he won't be young forever, so he's interested in finding a good person to pass the business on to. Here's his thoughts:

Interested in relocating to a less hectic area of the northeastern United States with an attractive quality of life? Alluring, coastal Maine! If you are a commercially or privately rated balloon pilot and want to “take over” an established flight service, I’d be interested in talking to you.

For over twenty years I have built this “ride” business into a viable, seasonal entity. I’d like to see the right aeronaut challenged and rewarded with its’ operations. We would gradually change ownership of this “S” corporation, financially and operationally.

If you know anything about the seasonal balloon flight business, unless you are financially independent, you understand the need for other types of income streams.

Relocation and buying a small business is, of course, a major move. Think about it and if there is interest I invite you to contact me!

207-799-0193 or

Friday, April 28, 2006

Balloonists' Weather Service

Balloon pilot weather A new option for preflight weather planning is available at BalloonCast - Balloon Pilot Weather.

BalloonCast provides side-by-side comparisons for 3 weather stations with current conditions, forecasts, and winds aloft. Sunrise & set are also shown, plus a pilot can check the 24 hour trend to see how conditions have developed. Data updates hourly.

Meteorological codes are translated into English and organized similarly to how weather briefers deliver them over the phone, but here they're easy to print and compare.

Additional features include radar, wind profilers, and a thunderstorm locator . There are options to shift time zones between local and zulu, and temperatures and dewpoint in degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit. Graphics for local radar, national radar, and a surface windcast give an overview at a glance.

Best of all, it's real easy to use. Just a few clicks to pick favorite weather stations and when you're flying, and eveything is displayed quickly.

Check the local balloon weather and see how accurate it is in your flying area.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Paper Lantern Hot Air Balloons

A new ballooning related gift catalog is offering 7 different designs of paper lanterns shaped like hot air balloons. The company is called and is expanding from a longterm balloon festival vendor on the east coast into a web merchant. The proprietor, Paul Veilleux, is also a student balloon pilot.

The lanterns are in the oriental style, made from rice paper on a wire frame. They pack flat and open easily. Because of their light weight they'll hang almost anywhere.

Inexpensive lanterns are a great way to give a balloon theme to a party or a room. They're bright, cheerful, and shout "Balloons!" Designs include rainbows, penguins, kites flying, geometric patterns, dolphins leaping, sailboats, and even carousel horses.

Coolest feature? Get the (optional) light kit that goes inside, converting the lantern into an instant balloon lamp. Adds a glow to the room.

The light kit includes a 15 foot cord, switch, and a compact fluorescent light bulb that's equal to a standard 100watt bulb, but without the heat. Or use your own 20 watt (or less) incandescent bulb for a soft, nightlight glow.

These are the hot air balloon paper lanterns, or take a look at Paul's balloon gift catalog.

What's your favorite design?

Monday, April 24, 2006

Artwork tops off a good Balloon

A new site explores the decorative world of hot air balloon parachute tops. Creator Keith Sproul feels that "Balloon parachutes should not be 'plain' They should have a design of some sorts."

So he's set out to document and show off the artwork atop balloons. A 'parachute top' is the round vent at the very top of a hot air balloon that can be opened and closed to adjust altitude. They are usually large, say a dozen feet across or more, and visible throughout a flight from the basket, but not from the ground.

So parachute top artwork is best enjoyed from the basket, or when a balloon is inflating or deflating. Of course, if you have the option, flying over is even better.

Some of the balloon top artwork shows off smiley faces, a roulette wheel, geometric designs, a clock, wizard's hat, and even animals.

This is a really fun site with a simple premise. Be sure to check it out, and if you know of a balloon with a cool top that's not shown, send Keith a picture.

For other sites with pictures of balloons or to learn about the hot air balloon manufacturers who build these beauties, try these listings. And Kudos to Keith for coming up with an original idea for a good ballooning website.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Pilot Jobs in Turkey

A few years ago I spent a magical 2 weeks flying in Cappadoccia, Turkey, living with the local pilots and crew. The scenery was stunning, flying conditions as close to perfect as anywhere, a large stream of passengers, and the food was good. The area was hot and dry, full of history. Don't ask about the belly dancer in the basket, I'd thought they were just kidding... When I got back, I'd had such a good time my family was afraid I'd move there.

So, imagine my surprise to see this offer come to me. If flying for a living in an exotic (but civilized) location appeals to you, check it out, there's room for several:

  • For the 2006 - 2007 season we are currently looking for pilots with experience of minimum 300 hours to fly passenger balloons in the best region of the world: Kapadokya - Turkey!!! 300 flying days and soft winds will allow you to land straight on the trailer in 90% of the flights! Spectacular scenery and nice people.

  • Housing, salary, food, paperwork will be provided by the company and 7 brand new Lindstrand balloons are waiting for you + more than 15 new full option vehicles.
    Do not miss this chance of a lifetime to start flying abroad! Send your CV (resume) now to
If this sounds intriguing, please respond directly to the email address above.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Christmas Cards for Balloonists

balloon holiday cardJust in time for the Holidays, here are a couple of holiday cards featuring Saint Nick in a hot air balloon over vineyards. Maybe he'll leave some good Champagne in good balloonists' stockings?

The cards are from Americards and cost a dollar apiece, with volume discounts available.

The first shows Santa high over wine country waving with the Northern Lights in the background. It's called Card #07 - Santa Hot Air Ballooning in Wine Country. You can see it above or order it here.

balloon christmas cardThe other card has the jolly old elf swooping low over crimson colored vines, holding out a gift in a balloon decorated like the classic montgolfiere of old. It's Card #20 - Wine Country, Classic Balloon, Harvest Time with Santa, shown at right and available here.

Card size is 5"x7" and includes a white envelope. They're printed on heavy card stock, coated face side. Custom imprints are available. You can call AmeriCards at 800-860-3417.

Hot air balloon Christmas cards from other vendors are also available.

Mass Balloon Wedding in China

China hot air balloon wedding28 couples in Nantong, in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, took off in hot air balloons and had a romantic group wedding ceremony in the sky. The weddings took place on On Wednesday, October 26, 2005.

Most couples were newlyweds, but one was an older couple celebrating their golden anniversary.

The ballooning was part of an ongoing airsports competition held in the city of Nantong. All of the events, which also include flying ultralights and microlights, take place in the air.China wedding anniversary in hot air balloon

While getting engaged in a hot air balloon is relatively common, hot air balloon weddings are rare as the limited size of a wedding party and dependence on good weather limits this to couples with a real sense of adventure.
balloon festival in China