Q: What is the difference between Hot Air Balloon Instruction under a Part 141 school or under instruction under Part 61?
A: 141 schools are special aviation schools whose operational criteria is designed by the FAA to facilitate a more rapid and thorough completion of the airman certification process.
141 Chief Instructors face stringent requirements for approval. A minimum of 600 hours of Hot Air Balloon Instruction (not simply flight time) must be documented to meet the requirements of being of a Chief Instructor. Once approved, 141 operators are regularly evaluated by the FAA concerning curriculum issues and new FAA changes, aircraft maintenance, required refresher studies, minimum student enrollment, and hot air balloon instruction techniques. The school must go through the approval process every 2 years regardless of its successful operation.
All commercial hot air balloon pilots have been given the privilege of instruction by virtue of FAR Part 61 under the FAA. A hot air balloon instructor operating under Part 61 has no requirement to use a curriculum or to maintain balloon instruction currency. There is no requirement for refresher courses or ongoing training.
Q: Should I take the FAA Hot Air Balloon written test out there?
A: You certainly can. However, it is more efficient if you can get it done before you arrive. We can provide the assistance you need to pass from here if necessary. During your stay, we will be working on the appropriate hot air balloon oral test material, which is quite comprehensive. We also spend a great deal of time discussing real life hot air balloon scenarios that you will experience. This kind of information hard is hard to get when back at home.
Q: I live in a flat area where there are lots of trees and wind. Will I be able to fly a hot air balloon safely here after learning in mountainous terrain?
A: I have had great success training new balloon pilots from Vermont to Florida, Alaska to Hawaii and many other places in the world. Having flown hot air balloons in most of the US and many parts of the world for over 39 years, I understand what a new balloon pilot will be up against in their local environment. The essential skill sets necessary for flying safely anywhere are good control skills and good judgment. Aside from accomplishing the hot air balloon rating, we work mostly on control and judgment in different scenarios during the balloon training. The student progresses to “tight landing” skills early in the balloon training. Nothing about “tight landings” are left to chance. The balloon student realizes early what maneuvers are necessary to execute a safe tight landing with a hot air balloon. The trick is to summon the concentration and fundamental skills necessary to accomplish it. With practice, skill and confidence quickly follow. The new balloon pilot leaves here as prepared as possible for the expected and unexpected conditions. Even so, I always suggest flying your balloon with another local balloon pilot once or twice upon returning home if possible, to learn the lay of the land, local tricks, weather patterns, and any red zones that might be in the area.
Q: What do I do about housing out there?
A: Rooms in Park City are plentiful. It is a world class ski resort in the winter months. Rooms in St. George are plentiful in the winter. It is off season then as the summer months are the busy with visitors going to all the National Parks nearby (Zions, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef etc) I have negotiated good room rates (around $70) for visiting students in both locations.
Q: Is it hard to get there?
A:Park City is located just 30 minutes down Interstate 80 from the Salt Lake City International Airport. St George is a 1.5 hour drive north of Las Vegas, NV. Shuttles or buses are available for transportation.
Q: I’m planning to buy a balloon. Should I buy one before I come or train in yours.
A: There are some advantages to training in your own balloon. The tuition is slightly less and you become familiar with your system.
However, most students arriving here know very little about the variety of hot air balloon systems available on the market today. Their knowledge is based on crewing for one particular type or what they have heard from other balloon pilots. The school setting allows the balloon student to experience what makes a hot air balloon really work and the features that matter to him/her. The balloon repair station here offers a chance to look at the different types of balloon systems and talk with some of the owners. At graduation, the new balloon pilot is better able to make a more informed decision on what he/she wants in a hot air balloon system.
Balloon the Rockies
7749 Whileaway Rd W
Park City, UT 84098
United States of America
Phone: (435) 649-2517