The balloon crew are an integral part of a hot air balloon flight, making sure that the balloon is properly inflated, launches correctly and helping the pilot to navigate and land safely. There are many tasks which the balloon crew must complete to ensure a safe flight for both the pilot and there passengers.
Inflating and launching the balloon – there are two main positions that the balloon crew take for launching a hot air balloon; these are called the crown line and the throat. The crown line usually consists of one person, who acts as an anchor and stabilises the balloons envelop during the inflation process. Once the balloon is inflated enough the pilot will gather the crown line and ties it to the balloons basket.
The throat consists of two of more members of the balloon crew, who hold open the mouth of the envelope as the hot air is pumped in. Once the balloon is inflated and starts to come into an upright position, the balloon crew members will place weight onto the basket until all the lines are secured.
Chasing the balloon – Once the balloon has been launched, the balloon crew will load up the vehicles and chase the balloon. The balloon crew will navigate for the driver to ensure that they stay ahead of the balloon and will also assist the pilot as they come in to land.
Landing the hot air balloon – When the pilot is ready to land, the balloon crew will advise them on the best area and one member will try to locate the land owner to ask for permission. When the balloon comes in to land the crew member position themselves on either side of the basket and help to weigh the balloon down once it hits the floor. The balloon is then deflated and packed away.
Once the balloon has been packed away, the pilot, passengers and crew will take part in the certificate ceremony, where the traditional champagne toast is performed for another successful balloon flight.