Balloons are rather simplistic compared to other forms of aircraft. As such they have no landing gear or means to move under they’re own power on the ground. This is where the Chase Crew comes in. The pilot’s skill make the balloon perform and look good, but it’s good crew that make a pilot look good. Here at Foolish Pleasures Hot Air Balloons I am truly blessed to have an exceptional group of crew people.
The chase crew is responsible for much more than just chasing after the balloon during flight. Once we arrive at the launch site, the crew assists the pilot in assembling the balloon componets and laying out the envelope for inflation. Two crew members will hold the mouth of the envelope open while a large fan fills it with air. At the same time, one or more crew members fasten the valve in the top of the balloon and hold a crown line to steady the balloon from rolling side to side. This continues through hot inflation. As the balloon stands up, some crew members are promoted to ballast, providing extra weight on the basket untill the passengers are loaded. Once the balloon is airborne, the crew pack up the fan, ropes, and any other support equipment used to launch the balloon, and then begin to chase the balloon on the ground. Because the balloon is traveling in more or less a straight line, and the chase crew have to follow roads, they may drive many times the miles traveled by the balloon.
Upon approach for landing, the crew perform one of their most important tasks of the entire flight, getting permission from the landowner. Because balloons rarely land where they take off from or at airports, it is vital for public relations that we obtain permission to land on private property before the pilot touches down. Once landowner permission has been obtained (which is useally the case) the crew may assist the pilot in repositioning the aircraft for deflation. The heavy lifting then begins as the pilot deflates the envelope while simultaneously crew pull the balloon over. The whole system is then disassembled and packed back into the trailer.
Join Our Chase Crew
Joining our team can be an etremely fun and addictive proposition. Chase crew members volunteer their time in exchange for rides in the balloon. For every eight flights you crew for, you earn a free ride which you may take yourself or give as a gift to family or friends. Additionally, crew members will occasionally travel to balloon festivals to crew at these unique events where anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred balloons may be launching off the same field. It is truly an impresive sight to behold.
If you are interested, contact Ryan to discuss becoming a crew member.
Foolish Pleasures Hot Air Balloons, 51 Public Ave, Montrose, PA 570-767-1050