Frequently Asked Questions

What regulations apply to balloons?
Several FAA Regulations apply to balloons. Those that apply include:

Part 61: Pilot Licensing (see FAA license requirements below)
Part 91: Flying regulations (same as for light planes).
Part 45: Aircraft defined by the balloon manufacturer.
What are the FAA license requirements?
A student pilot’s certificate is needed before commencing flight training.  To gain a student certificate, the applicant must be at least 14 years of age, be able to read, speak and understand the English language, and must certify that s/he has no medical defect that makes him/her unable to pilot a free balloon.

The successful completion of flight training leads to a private pilot certificate, lighter-than-air category with a free balloon class rating.  With more experience and training, the pilot can attain a commercial license, which enables the pilot to fly for hire or to instruct others to fly.


  • Minimum age 16 years
  • 10 hours balloon flight experience including:
    • 6 balloon flights under the supervision of an instructor.
    • One solo flight.
    • One flight to at least 2000 above the take off point.
    • Two flights of at least 1 hour each with 60 days prior to application for the rating.
  • An oral and written exam.
  • Flight test.


  • Minimum age 18 years
  • 35 hours balloon flight experience including:
    • 20 hours in balloons.
    • 10 flights in balloons.
    • Two flights in balloons as the pilot in command.
    • 10 hours of training including 10 training flights.
  • An oral and written exam.
  • Flight test.

How do I get trained as a pilot?
Contact Mike Bauwens at Balloon the Rockies

How expensive is training?
Normally, estimated costs to obtain your private pilot’s license will vary from $1,500 to $3,000.  Training in your own balloon would be the least expensive.

What are the parts of a balloon?

What equipment do I need, aside from a balloon?
A trailer, van or pickup truck, an inflation fan, and 2-way radios (optional but recommended)

How expensive is a balloon?
New balloons can start around $18,000 and go up to over $50,000 if you choose special artwork or go for a special shape. We can advise you on the best system for your needs and can direct you to a reputable brand and dealer.Used balloons range in price from $4,000 to $25,000.

How do I decide what balloon to buy?
Some of the many considerations include the size of balloon suitable for receiving instruction, ease of getting service, insurability, type of equipment needed for local flying conditions, warranty, and resale value.

What about insurance costs?
That depends on the type, size, and brand of balloon and how it will be used. Average annual premiums for a private pilot range from $500 to $1,000.

Where can I fly a balloon?
Legally, just about everywhere (except around major airports).  Functionally, everywhere except in midtown large cities or close to large airports.

Do balloons compete?
YES! Balloons from many countries compete in the World Championships.  The U.S. Nationals attracts over 100 balloons annually, and nearly 100 local balloon competitions around the USA qualify pilots for national competition. Additionally, there are competition (whether nationally sanctioned or not) at practically every balloon festival.

More questions? Call us at 1-800-396-UPUP