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Spotlight on Passenger Rides Business

Ideas to consider before launching into your new passenger-rides business

by Cameron Balloons

Spotlight on Passenger Rides Business

What do I need for a great passenger-rides business?

  1. Long-lasting, reliable, hot-air balloon equipment - specially designed for carrying fee-paying passengers and guests.
  2. A beautiful venue, interesting attractions and/or amazing city-landmarks, incredible rural or remote landscapes.
  3. A never-ending supply of customers, visitors, tourists. Careful consider your business location - being nearby a city full of people wanting to fly has advantages.
  4. Pilots, Crew, Guides & perhaps even Chefs!
  5. Great ballooning weather

Passenger-Rides, Balloon Business - More Detail.

1. Balloon Equipment

A successful business needs; great, reliable, proven long-lasting, hot-air balloon equipment – specially designed and aeronautically-engineered by Cameron Balloons for carrying fee-paying passengers and guests.

The size and shape of a hot-air balloon is determined by several factors:

  • Local Area
  • Weather Conditions
  • Availability of passengers
  • Experience of the pilot
  • Size and availability of landing spots

The most popular sizes of balloon usually carry, the Pilot plus 6-12 passengers, although larger balloon operations very often carry 16 passengers at a time, per balloon. Cameron Balloons have the ability to construct extremely large passenger-carrying balloon systems. The largest, flagship size, is the Z-750 which can accommodate up to 32 passengers at a time.

The cost of any complete hot-air balloon system varies with individual pilot requirements, the type of fabric, the terrain it has to withstand, other equipment used for example vehicles etc. However, we are delighted to offer all our clients; expert help, ideas and assistance when making choices about equipment specification.

The typical life of your Cameron Balloons passenger hot-air balloon will be approximately 400 hours to over 1000 hours depending on the fabric you chose for manufacture, the local atmospheric conditions, the terrain the equipment is subjected to and how it is operated, maintained and stored.

Complete equipment – includes the Envelope (fabric part of the balloon), the Basket, the Burner, Fuel Cylinders suitable for the size of balloon & cold-air inflation fans - which are needed at the beginning of the flight to inflate the balloon before hot-air, from the burner.

We can add any type of graphics onto the fabric envelope, either using an appliqué process (adding cut fabric on top of the balloon 'skin' to build up the design using different colours) or more usually, by digital printing directly onto the balloon fabric – this is particularly good, if you wish to have something photographically accurate.

2. Location

A beautiful venue, interesting attractions and/or amazing city-landmarks / incredible rural with remote landscapes is desirable.

‘don’t go anywhere to balloon, you balloon to balloon’ Malcolm Forbes of Forbes Magazine.

Successful, big, balloon-ride businesses need interesting or unusual places to fly over; and this business model is shown to work well in places like Bagan in Burma and Cappadocia in Turkey. That said, there are hundreds of successful balloon-ride businesses flying profitably, in smaller-scale businesses, throughout the globe.

3. Passengers

Researching  the tourist information numbers for your proposed area or perhaps numbers for other similar local adventurous sports is a good idea.

Consider local and national calendar events, possible partnership opportunities with hotels or other local tourist locations, offers, group buy deals, repeat flight offers and your advertising campaign ideas. Inventing some stimulating and newsworthy PR stories – For instance, the progress of the balloon during its build at Cameron Balloons is a fabulous way to start generating customer excitement and PR.

What do most people love about ballooning?

Ballooning is an exhilarating, unforgettable adventure and flying appeals to all, be they young or old. For a few, it's just a once-in-a-lifetime experience but for many it is something they do again and again.

4. Operating Crew


To fly the larger passenger-ride balloons, you need a trained hot-air balloon pilot who holds a current commercial balloon pilot’s licence CPL(B). This regulation varies from country to country but a country-approved, valid CPL(B) is usually required.

Training for a Commercial Pilot’s Licence varies but typically requires Pilots to obtain a private pilot’s licence first which generally takes between 16 - 40 hours of flight tuition, incorporating instructor flights, additional ground-based theory study, examinations, some flight tests, radio licence examinations as well as regular thorough medical examinations.

Find staff that are an asset to your business! People that enhance your business and ensure they are people whose company you enjoy – as ballooning is, lots of early mornings and long days!

For a balloon pilot to fly commercially in the UK (so that they can legally carry fare-paying passengers) they require a Commercial Balloon Pilot’s licence CPL(B). This licence is very well regarded in other countries but it would be wise to check with your own country’s Civil Aviation Authority Regulations, so you comply fully with their requirements.


Successful balloon companies have well-trained crew who not only manage all aspects of balloon operation (apart from flying), they often can maintain vehicles and the best ones are often fastidiously tidy too (which helps keep equipment together and in order.)

Important crew traits are enthusiasm, robust cheerfulness even when it is very early and making it feel special and unique for the guests – even if it is their 2000th time working with the balloon.

Great crew often have other skills that they can draw on should they need to; such as fire & first aid courses, customer service and retail training, organisational skills, HGV driving qualifications etc.

5. Great ballooning weather

This usually means working closely with local or national Metrological Offices using their various resources;

Local Area Weather Conditions Availability of passengers Experience of the pilot Size and availability of landing spots

  • Talk to a forecaster
  • Examining aviation forecast services (some countries also have Ballooning forecasts by region)
  • Obtaining data about low-level spot winds
  • Terming aerodrome forecasts
  • Pre-flight briefings,
  • Online synoptic charts,
  • Weeather prediction systems
  • Rainfall radar

By combining all these reports together, Balloonists can get a good picture of the usual weather conditions for an area and precise conditions for the next 12 hours, 24 hours, which informs of the likely trend for the next 36 hours to 48 hours