The current COVID-19 crisis has had serious implications for the aviation industry. Fewer people are travelling by plane for business or pleasure, and international travel is still prohibited or severely restricted in many parts of the globe. However, this situation has also presented an opportunity for pilots and other aviation professionals.
This month, New Mexico-based hot air balloonists have launched a bespoke training programme for commercial airplane pilots to teach them to navigate an altogether different aeronautical device – the hot air balloon.
The hot air balloon industry is going from strength to strength, with many event organisers turning balloon baskets into floating arenas for musicians to perform in at outdoor events from a safe distance. Hot air balloon fiestas – including one held in Albuquerque – have never been more popular, with visitors keen to make the most of an event that can be enjoyed outside. This demand puts pressure on hot air balloon companies for new pilots.
Airplane pilots already have the head for heights, the ability to work under pressure and understand the mechanics of flight, so these training programmes give them the skills to lead tours and to practice taking guests on trips of a lifetime.
There is an incontestable magic to hot air ballooning. As an activity that can be enjoyed safely from the air or seen from the ground, it is no wonder that more and more people are discovering the magic for themselves. In the UK, people can experience expertly guided hot ballooning adventures over Bristol, Bath and the south west.