Clive Bailey is the Chief Pilot and, alongside Jo Bailey, is the Business owner of Bailey Balloons and Aerosaurus Balloons. Clive gained his Commercial Hot Air Balloon Pilots Licence in 1992, and is also a qualified instructor. He is the weather advisor for the Western Region Balloon Club, and is a director at the Bristol Balloon Fiesta, in charge of launching over 150 balloons!
We asked Clive about a typical day in the life of a Bailey Balloons Pilot and how he got started as a Hot Air Balloonist.
How did you get your first job? When did you first learn to fly?
“I was first employed as a deep sea diver and worked in the Middle East and the North Sea for many years. It is funny how I now work in the skies! I first learnt to fly by gliders and then a friend took me for a balloon flight and I was hooked. It was very different from gliding but I loved the ability to skim the fields and fly over cities at a pace that enables you to take everything in. My father was a flight test engineer and sales director for Concorde and I was often taken to airshows as a young boy with my two brothers. We have all grown up with a passion for anything that flies!”
What is your day to day routine – what’s an “average” day for you?
“On a flying day the alarm goes off at 4.00 am and I get up with cup of coffee and eat a banana whilst checking the latest weather and finalising the paperwork. I then meet the crew up at the barn where we keep the balloons and we get the trailers hitched up to the vehicles. We set off to the launch site to meet the passengers between 5.30 and 6.00 am. I always like to remember the excitement of my first balloon flight and I want to do my best to see that all the passengers feel the same, even though I have done it many times before. We then prepare the balloon for inflation, and after a safety briefing, the passengers climb aboad and then we take off, floating with the wind over towns and villages in the stunning countryside of the South West of England, where we are lucky enough to live and fly over! On landing the retrieve crew are there with the vehicles and trailer. After gaining permission from the landowner they come and help pack the balloon away and then chilled champagne is served. We then drive the passengers back to the launch site and say our good byes. The crew and I, if we have time, will stop for a bacon sandwich- one of our favourite places is in the Bristol Harbourside, and then return to the barn and refuel the balloons. On returning home, I check the weather for the evening’s flight, do messages for weather lines for the passengers and the local balloon club, and then head to bed for a sleep. On rising I will eat a meal, finish the paper work and then head out to the barn to do it all again. In the summer months I might not get back home until very late so that’s why I need to sleep in the day as well.”
What are the best and worst bits of the job?
“The best is the flying- seeing some amazing sights such as wild deer, owls, hidden away houses and stunning scenery from the balloon, perhaps a few wisps of early morning mist in the sunny valley below you and meeting so many interesting people from so many places. I have also done a lot of filming for TV and have flown many famous people such as Ant and Dec and Jamie Oliver. Ballooning has also taken me to many different countries around the world including Iran, Qatar, Oman, USA, Poland, Switzerland and many others. The worst bit of my job is sleeping during the day- even though I’m tired I don’t like to miss out when everyone else is up and about!”
To find out more about Hot Air Balloon rides in the South West visit baileyballoons.co.uk or call the booking office to make a reservation to fly with Clive on 01275 375300.