"... The best way of travel, if you aren't in any hurry at all, if you don't care where you are going, if you don't like to use your legs, if you don't want to be annoyed at all by any choice of directions, is in a balloon. In a balloon, you can decide only when to start, and usually when to stop. The rest is left entirely to nature ..."
William Pene du Bois
How does the balloon get in the air in the first place? The answer to the often-asked question: "Who are all those people around the balloon?" is "We are crew!" and they are our unsung heroes
The crew helps the pilot rig the equipment, holds open the envelope as it fills with cold air, and applies weight to the outside of the basket as needed before launch. Then they follow the balloon on the ground, and after the landing, help the pilot pack everything up before the champagne celebration. Much of the crew workload consists of carrying heavy equipment from the truck to and from launch and landing spots. Even though this task can be a lot of work, it’s also rewarding. The following are some of the crew responsibilities:
• Communications between pilot and crew
• Assigns crew positions
• Connects tabs at crown
• Anticipates problems and instructs crew
Crown Line Person(s)
• Assists Crew Chief when installing tabs at crow
• Controls roll of envelope
• Controls balloon crown as balloon is cold inflated
• Adds resistance to slow the envelope as it rises
• Removes envelope from envelope bag
• Connects envelope to basket
• Holds mouth open during cold inflation
• Insures safety of spectators near throat of envelope
• Adjusts the fan speed on pilot instructions
• Pulls fan away after pilot instructs fan be turned off
Are you one of the wonderful folks who sees us in the air and can't resist following along? Thank you ... you make ballooning so much more fun. Ballooning is a terrific personal experience by itself, but when you join the 'chase', it becomes a social event as well. Feel free to just watch, but be aware that most balloonists (there are exceptions to every rule) are thrilled to see you for another reason: landing a balloon and packing it up is a chore ... and the "more the merrier" could not be more true. Like an old fashioned barn raising, everyone is needed, everyone contributes, and everyone has fun - but it is a lot of WORK!
Without the help of competent and reliable crew members, these ballooning adventures would not be possible. The goal of the crew is to get the chase vehicle to the landing field before the pilot lands, and to still have enough time to be waiting in the selected field to assist in any way with the landing operation. Sound pretty simple? Well ... most of the time it is! Joining our chase crew is a wonderful way to become an 'insider' in the ballooning community and to earn the privilege of experiencing a free ride on a Hot Air Balloon.
Being a member of a balloon crew can be a lot of hard work but there are many benefits. If conditions are right, sometimes we can "tether" the balloon (fly to a controlled height with ropes attached to vehicles or people on the ground) and give rides to our helpers. On some flights there is extra room in the basket and that's when the pilot may suggest that a crew person jump in and enjoy the flight from the air.
How do you become part of a chase crew? You can look up in the sky and follow the next balloon you see until it lands. Please allow the crew to pack the balloon away before you approach the basket. If you see us, please feel free to join us! Then all you have to do is tell one of the crew that you are interested in ballooning. You'll more than likely be directed to the pilot, who will either snatch you up for their own crew, then and there, or place you in contact with someone who can find you a home.
Most balloons have a crew of between 3 to 6 people. Most balloon crews are volunteer, and do not get paid. For most of us, it is a hobby. It's how we work off the stresses of the week, and get together to have a good time with an ever-changing hobby.
Crew people come in all shapes and sizes: singles, married, & entire families can be found. Pick any combination of these types of folks, and they are here too. The only special skill needed for the balloon ground crew is a willingness to learn and ask questions. Some tasks require a fair amount of physical strength, but don't worry, there are even more tasks that do not.
Call or E-mail us ... 'click' on the Contact Us button and begin a very different and rewarding Hot Air Ballooning adventure.
Crewing can be hard work
Deflating the envelope