- Balloon pilots need a commercial pilot's license (fixed-wing). They must have at least 35 hours of flight instruction, attend ground school for basic aviation training, pass a written test for hot-air balloons and have a flight check from a Federal Aviation Administration official.
- According to the FAA, balloons must meet air-traffic control requirements if they are in a controlled air-space, and pilots must have radio contact with controllers.
- There are no official safety requirements for passengers, but passengers should know with whom they're flying and their qualifications.
- Accidents are rare, especially in the Northwest. The only serious injuries for the area -- found in a check of National Transportation Safety Board balloon accident reports back to 1984 -- were a broken leg and a broken ankle, both from rough landings.
- Hot air balloons don't fly in the rain because balloon heat can cause water to boil atop the balloon, and boiling water destroys the fabric.
- Area balloon operators can carry from two to 10 passengers at a time, depending on balloon size.
- Children under 5 usually aren't allowed.
- Ballooning is not a silent sport. There are some quiet moments, but those burners are noisy.
- Balloonists dress like hikers: Pants, sturdy flat shoes and layers of shirt, sweater, jacket, for example. Carry cameras and lots of film.
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