Student Balloon Pilot Certificate Requirements
Students must be 14 years or older, able to read, speak, write and understand the English language.
The FAA does not require balloon pilots to have a medical certificate. Pilots however cannot have a condition that would prevent them from operating the balloon safely.
Balloon Flying/Testing Requirements for a student balloon license
The FAA’s IACRA application is a form of certification that allows students to attain their student pilot certificate. Students are required to complete the paperwork and submit it to an FAA Inspector or Designated Pilot Examiner for them to sign off on it before they can take the flight test.
As a student, you are not allowed to pilot the balloon on your own. You must always be supervised by a qualified instructor, and never carry passengers or fly for hire.
Student pilots may fly solo after they have completed a pre-solo test and training, as well as demonstrated knowledge of the following aspects: pre-flight operations, operation of controls, lift-off, climb, descent, landings, and emergency procedures (Parts 61 and 91).
You’ll also learn all about the weather: Good weather, bad weather, cloud structures, how to read the winds, what wind speeds are safe to fly in, how temperature and pressure can impact the way the balloon operates. You’ll learn how to inflate a balloon, land the balloon, how to select landing sites, contour flying (flying at treetop level), how to work effectively with your ground crew, determine wind conditions, and the weight limitations on your specific aircraft. You’ll also learn about different types of hot air balloons, different hot air balloon basket setups, and basket sizes, along with proper propane fueling techniques… basically… you’ll learn a massive amount of information that will prepare you to be a balloon pilot!
Private Balloon Pilot Certificate requirements
To be a private hot air balloon pilot, you must be 16 years or older. You also have to be able to read and write English.
The FAA does not require balloon pilots to have a medical certificate. Pilots however cannot have a condition that would prevent them from operating the balloon safely
The FAA requires that pilots have a minimum of 10 hours of flight training, which must include 6 flights under the supervision of an instructor, one controlled ascent to 2,000 feet above takeoff point, and two flights with at least 60 minutes in duration. Pilots are also required to make one solo flight.
In order to get your LTA pilot certification, you must first pass the written FAA Knowledge Test (or hold a Pilot Certificate for any powered aircraft). You also need to take and pass the oral and flight Practical Knowledge Test given by an FAA Inspector or Designated FAA Flight Examiner.
Once you’ve passed your final test, you’ll be able to take your friends and family on hot air balloon rides. You may instantly become very popular. That is until your friends and family realize that helping means waking up super early before the sunrises to chase you!
Commercial Balloon Pilot Certificate
To become a commercial hot air balloon pilot, you must be 18 years or older with a private pilot license. You also need to speak and understand English fluently
Medical certificates are not currently required; however, you must have no condition that would prevent you from operating the aircraft safely.
To be a commercial hot air balloon pilot is to meet certain qualifications. You must have 35 hours of flight time (20 being in a hot air balloon), which includes 10 flights with an instructor on the advanced Commercial Pilot areas of operation and one controlled ascent to 3,000 feet above takeoff point. There are also two flights of at least 60 minutes each that pilots need to complete.
Aspiring commercial balloon pilots need to ensure that they have the required written knowledge of flight regulations, as well as pass a more advanced oral and flight Practical Knowledge Test given by an FAA Inspector or Designated FAA Flight Examiner.
*Once you obtain your Commercial Balloon Pilot Certificate, it is important to continue to build flight hours. Why? Well, in order to meet the insurance requirements of flying larger sizes of hot air balloons commercially, should that be the path you choose.