Paris Balloon and Music Association will have a free Balloon Crew training class for interested volunteers. Volunteers will help pilots at the 2019 Balloon Glow and Balloon Launch.
Lena Spencer, event coordinator, said Jim and Lisa Williams from Katy, Texas, will conduct the Sunday training at 4 p.m. at Love Civic Center, 2025 S. Collegiate Dr.
“It is a terrific way to be up close and learn about hot air ballooning,” Spencer said. “It’s a lot of fun, we have several volunteers that return year after year getting to know the pilots and other balloon enthusiasts.”
For those who would like to volunteer on the balloon crew, Spencer said the training is not mandatory but recommended.
“This will be a hands on learning experience and we will inflate the hot air balloon on site,” Spencer said. “This is weather dependent; rain or high winds would effect the scheduled event.”
Those who attend the training and sign up to crew will be entered in a drawing to win a ride in a hot air balloon during the July 19-21 festival. The drawing will take place at the end of the training class.
To register for the training, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the volunteer’s name and phone number.
Volunteers are required to be 18 years or older to register.
What may be expected to do as a ground crew member:
- Unloading the Balloon: once on the field, the crew will help the proceed to unload the balloon equipment. The next job is to assemble the aircraft. The fabric must be attached to the basket and the burners and fuel lines must be installed and pre-flight inspected. This process takes about 10 minutes. The passengers and any spectators will receive a safety briefing during the assembly.
- Cold Air and Hot Air Inflation: Gasoline powered inflator fans are used to fill the balloon envelope with cold air as it lays on the ground. The crew holds the mouth of the balloon open and installs the deflation port at the top of the balloon. Once the balloon is packed full of cold air and the fabric is completely spread out, the propane burners will be lit and used to raise the balloon to the vertical. After hot inflation and the balloon is standing upright, the crew will go through a preflight checklist and board passengers. Takeoff is next and the crew then loads the equipment left on the field and begins the process of chasing the balloon.
- The chase vehicle has to follow a road whereas the balloon has no such limitation. You might think that something so large and colorful as a hot air balloon would also be easy to keep in sight; the balloon can be there one minute and gone the next. Often times hidden by trees or far from the road that the van was traveling. Picking a route to take to intercept the balloon’s flight path requires strong map skills and a keen understanding of how the winds are impacting the flight.
- Once the balloon has landed the chase crew arrives and helps with packing up the balloon. The chase crew has a very important job, navigating the roads while using radios to communicate with the pilot and keep the balloon in sight. The crew often helps identify potential landing spots for the pilot. Once the balloon lands, the chase crew will have several duties; help make sure there are no sharp objects around the balloon, hold the balloon basket down, and help deflate and pack up the balloon.
- After landing the crew joins the pilot and passengers for a celebration. There is a champagne toast and the pilot tells the story of The First Flight.