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Become a Pilot

What does it take to be a pilot?  Hot air balloon pilots are official FAA certified pilots just as with any other aircraft.   The process for obtaining a pilotís license is shorter for a hot air balloon, than other aircraft.   There are three levels of pilot certificates available: Student Pilot, Private Pilot, and Commercial Pilot.

Student Pilot

You must have a student pilotís certificate prior to making any solo flights.   Student pilots may not fly any passengers.
(note: anyone can take flying lessons, even without a pilotís license)

Requirements

  • Be at least 14 years old
  • Can read, speak, and understand English
  • Able to certify that you have no medical defect preventing you from flying

Private Pilot

A private pilot may fly solo and with passengers.   Private pilots can not charge a fee for flights other than a pro rata cost for flight.

Requirements

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Hold a current student certificate
  • Have at least 10 hours of training which must include the following:
    • 6 flights with an instructor
    • One solo flight
    • One ascent to 2000 feet above the takeoff point
    • 2 flights of 1 hour each within 60 days prior to rating application
  • Pass a written knowledge test covering the following areas:
  • Pass a practical flight test

Commercial Pilot

A commercial pilot may fly passengers for hire.   Commercial pilots can also give flight instruction.

Requirements

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Hold a private pilotís license
  • Have at least 35 hours of training, including 20 hours in balloons, which must include the following:
    • 10 flights in balloons
    • 10 hours of flight training that includes at least 10 flights with an instructor
    • Two flights as pilot in command
    • One ascent to 3000 feet above the takeoff point
    • 2 flights of 1 hour each within 60 days prior to rating application
  • Pass a written knowledge test covering the following areas:
  • Pass a practical flight test
Copyright 2008 Robert H. Cooper
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