In this episode of Flying Podcast, I’m talking with Ted Moore of European Balloons. European Balloons operate commercial hot-air balloon flights in the Home Counties from their base in Great Missenden. The purpose of this interview was to find out more about hot-air ballooning. How do you get into it? What qualifications do you need? What sorts of balloons are there? How do you learn to fly a balloon, etc etc. If you like to know more about the world of hot air ballooning, have a listen to Ted’s podcast.
My first question to Ted was ‘why fly a hot air balloon’. His response was that it was the best form of flight, the pilot being in complete touch with nature.
He gave me a brief summary of what is required in order for a pilot to gain his PPL (Balloon). Here’s a list of requirements taken from the British Balloon and Airship Club’s web site:
– Have at least 16 hours flying experience within the preceeding 2 years.
– Have made 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.
– Keep a BBAC training log.
– Be recommended by a BBAC approved Instructor for a flight test.
– Undertake a flight test 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.
– Be signed off as medically fit to fly by your GP. (Same as NPPL)
– Attend an approved Landowner Relations Seminar.
For more, and completely up-to-date, information, visit the BBAC’s web site.
Ted explains that the landowner relations course is particularly important and he describes the sorts of problems a balloonist is likely to encounter with various animal types and what to do if you damage a farmer’s crops.
I asked Ted whether it’s possible to learn to fly a balloon abroad. He says that there are schools in Spain, Germany and Italy. At the moment you must be taught by a UK instructor but this rule is likely to change.
Next, I asked Ted what to do once you’ve got your PPL how do you get into the air.
Are there syndicates where you can buy a share in a balloon?
How much is a balloon or a share likely to cost?
What types of balloon are available?
Ted’s answer to minimise the cost of balloon flying is to join a local ballooning club and to use the club’s balloon, paying approximately Â£60 an hour.
Ted covers the sort of equipment apart from the balloon that you likely to require.
A GPS, although not essential is very useful especially for gauging wind speed and direction.
By law the balloonist has to carry CAA maps but primarily they use OS maps with airspace and various other areas marked on.
4 wheel drive vehicle and trailer is essential for retrieval.
There are several different sizes of balloon available from the one-man balloon up to the 400’s and 450’s (450,000 sq ft) that can carry up to 20 people. Ted reckons that 8 people on board is the ideal size of group.
Ted describes a couple of the further training schemes under the auspices of the BBAC
These include the landowner relations course and RT (Radiotelephony) Courses but there are many more. See the BBAC web site for details.
There is a CPL qualification for balloons.
Ted gives us a brief overview of the various requirements of the CPL licenses. Again, for full details, visit the BBAC web site:
I asked Ted to describe a typical flight.
He started with the weather constraints that affect ballooning. He then describes the inflation and launching routine, how wind speed influences balloon flights, heights flown and lastly the issues that affect landing.
Ted mentions what European Balloons have to offer and where they fly. He also gives us an idea of what sort of flying he does for fun such as winter flying in Switzerland.
For more details on the company, visit: