Hot Air Balloons are aircraft that require a team of 2 – 6 people in order for them to fly. Becoming a crew member on a balloon is usually the first step to becoming a balloon pilot. However, not all crew members have the desire to ever get their pilots license, they just enjoy the camaraderie, the beauty of the sport, and of course, the fun.
What Does A Crewmember Do ?
Crewmembers, as directed by the Crew Chief, assist in all aspects of balloon inflation, retrieval, landowner relations and pack up. Safety is our primary concern, and the Pilot and Crew Chief make all decisions concerning the flight.
Inflation – The inflation process requires first the assembly of the balloon basket, followed by the the rigging of the balloon envelope ( fabric portion of the balloon ) to the basket. Once all the components are assembled, a large gas powered fan is used to cold inflate the balloon while the balloon is laid out on its side. Once the balloon is 2/3’s inflated with cold air the pilot will begin to introduce hot air in the envelope with the use of the burner raising the balloon to its vertical position.
Chase – While the balloon is in flight it is the responsibility of the crew to follow the balloon in the chase vehicle. During this time the objectives of the crew is to remain in front of the balloon during the flight in case of any unanticipated problems, as well as, for the final landing and retrieval.
Pack Up – The pack up process involves the deflation of the balloon envelope (squeezing the balloon), followed by the packing of the envelope back into the balloon’s bag and the dismantling of the basket. Once all the equipment secured it is placed back on the chase vehicle and readied for the next flight.
What Does It Take To Become A Crewmember ?
Simply your desire to have fun and learn about one the most exciting and photographed sports in the world. You do need to be in good physical condition, and not be afraid to get a little dirty. We encourage people of all ages to become involved in the sport. Our volunteer crew assists us without compensation, and strictly for the love of ballooning. Frequent crew participation can however lead to earning a free balloon ride.