How to be a hot air balloon pilot in Australia

  • Commercial hot air balloon pilot
  • Recreational hot air balloon pilot
  • Hot Air Balloon Pilot Jobs

If you’re interested how to get your hot air balloon licence and learn to fly a hot air balloon or a hot air balloon pilot job, please read further.

The sheer enjoyment of the flight, the ability to share that experience with others  is such a buzz that your whole outlook on life will never be the same. To become a Hot Air Balloon pilot is truly a worthy goal. 

First of all, a basic explanation of how to become a commercial hot air balloon pilot in Australia.

- Train to be a private hot air balloon pilot.

- Then must fly 75 hours as Pilot In Command in private flights.

- Then complete hot air balloon training flights and study required for commercial ballooning training.

- Then pass hot air ballooning theory exams for commercial hot air balloon pilot.

- Then pass check hot air balloon flights. 

Do you need a licence to fly a hot air balloon?

All balloon pilots in Australia must have a pilot's certificate or licence as issued by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to be able to fly a balloon.

Where can I learn to fly a balloon?

It’s possible to learn to fly with most hot air balloon firms in Australia where there is a vacancy for a trainee pilot. The training will prepare students for the Australian Ballooning Federation and CASA qualifications from private pilot right through to instructor level.

Do I get any credit for my prior aviation experience?

It is hoped that in 2013 that the aviation authorities in Australia will consider giving some credit given for experience in other aircraft types, this is part of CASR 131 which has been in the pipeline for some years. If you have prior aviation experience it will certainly give you an advantage and would most likely mean that you would be certified / licenced at minimum hours.

How long does it take to learn to fly a hot air balloon?

Most people complete the private hot air balloon pilots training course over a period of 2 to 3 months. During this time they will be involved in a variety of balloon related activities to build their exposure and familiarity with hot air balloon technology. There are a minimum of 16 hours of flight training required for the private certificate course. To be a commercial hot air balloon pilot, then requires logging required hours for each size of balloon and passing tests at each Grade.

Is there much theory involved in learning to fly a hot air balloon?

The theory of ballooning is relatively simple and there are training notes available for studying for the private hot air balloon pilot certificate examinations.

For the private pilots certificate there are six exams; Air Law, Navigation, Meteorology, Aerostatics and Airmanship, Landowner Code of Conduct and Radio Operator. Training notes and assistance for the commercial pilot theory exams should be provided by the flight school providing the training.

What are your recommended study materials for the Commercial Pilot examinations?

Candidates for the commercial pilot theory examinations are advised to download and print a copy of the CPL Syllabus from the CASA website.

For the operational examination (COPB) we recommend purchasing and studying 4 books:

  • Human Factors for Pilots; Roger Green et. al.; Avebury Press
  • Aircraft Human Performance Limitations; Tony Wilson; Air services Australia Publications Unit
  • CPL Aeroplanes Meteorology; Bob Tait or Aviation Theory Centre;
  • CPL Aeroplanes Navigation; Bob Tait or Aviation Theory Centre;

For the aviation law examination (CLWB) you will need to purchase copies of:

  • Civil Aviation Regulations 1988 (CAR1988);
  • Civil Aviation Safety Regulations 1998 (CASR1998);
  • Civil Aviation Act;
  • Enroute Supplement Australia (ERSA);
  • Civil Aviation Orders (CAO);
  • Canberra VTC;
  • Planning Chart Australia (PCA).

Other reference materials can be downloaded from the CASA website:

  • CAAP 92-3 Guidelines for Manned Balloon Launching and Landing Areas;
  • CAAP 157-1 Balloon Flights over Populous Areas;
  • CAAP 235-1 Standard Passenger Weights;
  • CASA Instrument 566/03 Pilot Maintenance of Balloons.

Also look at a copy of the following: CAR 259/ 260 Permit.

What training courses for private hot air balloon pilots run in Australia?

Training for all of the certificates and endorsements available from the Australian Balloon Federation including private pilot certificate, instructor, night, gas balloon and rosiere balloon ratings and the larger then 120,000 cubic feet endorsement is conducted by a private balloon pilot in Queensland.

If employed by a commercial hot air balloon company then there are courses for the Commercial Pilot Licence, Night VFR Rating and Instructor Rating.

What first step should I take towards getting my hot air balloon licence?

Hot Air Ballooning is a very special form of flight but consider that a hot air balloon pilot is still required to be fully trained and authorised as a high level commercial pilot and the early morning starts are not for everyone. As a first step towards gaining your licence we recommend that you:

  • go for a balloon flight
  • read all the links attached to this website
  • read the material at relating to hot air balloon regulations
  • phone us and discuss the options to be a hot air balloon ground crew member

These experiences will provide you with a wealth of information and will assist in making a decision about whether this is something that you would really like to pursue.