Balloon Fun Facts

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. There are no official safety requirements for passengers, but passengers should know with whom they're flying and their qualifications.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Area balloon operators can carry from two to 10 passengers at a time, depending on balloon size.
  7. Children under 5 usually aren't allowed.
  8. Ballooning is not a silent sport. There are some quiet moments, but those burners are noisy.
  9. 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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