Balloon ground transportation varies. The most
common vehicles are a van with the balloon carried
inside, a pickup truck with the balloon carried in
the bed, or a van or pickup truck with a small trailer
(flatbed or covered).
Some considerations in selecting a transport/chase
- Finances—If you are on a tight budget, a trailer
hitch on the family sedan and a small flatbed trailer
may work just fine.
- Convenience—For ease of handling the
balloon, a small flatbed trailer that is low to the
ground makes the least lifting demands on you and
- Number of Crew Members—If the number
of crew members is small, handling the balloon
should be made as easy as possible. If the number
of crew members is large, the size of the chase
vehicle and other factors may be more important.
- Storage—Some balloonists, who do not have
room for inside storage, and want security on the
road, choose an enclosed trailer. If you choose an
enclosed trailer for the storage of your balloon,
the trailer should be a light color to help reduce
the heat inside.
- Fuel—A propane-powered vehicle gives the
option of fueling the balloon from the vehicle.
- Vehicle Suitability—Terrain, vehicle road
clearance, and number of chase crew members are
factors that will determine the suitability of a
- Igniters—It is recommended that you carry at
least two sources of ignition on board. The best
igniter is the plain and simple welding striker. Many
new balloons have built-in piezo ignition systems.
- Fueling Adapter—Pilots should carry their
own adapters to ensure that the adapters are clean
and not worn. Adapters that are dirty and worn may
damage a fuel system.
- Fire Extinguisher—Some balloons come with
a small fire extinguisher affixed in the basket.
However, they are usually too small to extinguish
grass fires or serious basket fires caused by a
propane leak. Fumbling for a fire extinguisher may
just use up the time required to manually extinguish
a propane-leak fire before it becomes serious. Most
propane fires can be extinguished by turning off a
- First Aid Kit—Some pilots carry a small first
aid kit in their balloon, some in the chase vehicle.
This is a matter of personal preference. A kit’s
contents are often a topic at safety seminars and
may vary from region to region.
- Drop Line—A good drop line has a quick
release provision, is easy to deploy, recover and
store, and is easy for a person on the ground to
handle. Webbing is a popular drop line material
because it is strong. Webbing is hard to roll up, but
easy to store. Half-inch nylon braid is strong and
is easily rolled into a ball and put in a bag.
- Gloves—Gloves should be made of lightcolored
smooth leather to reflect/deflect propane,
and gauntlet-style to cover the wrist. Avoid
synthetic material which melts in heat and ventilated
gloves which let in flame or gas.
- Spares—The following are recommended
spares to carry in the chase vehicle or to have on
• Quick pins and carabiners.
• Gloves and helmets.
• Envelope fabric.
• Spare tire for the trailer.
• Extra fuel for the fan.
- Helmets—Some balloon manufacturers
suggest protective headgear be worn, especially
in high-wind conditions. The intention is to protect
heads from impact injury. Store helmets in a bag
that can be carried inside or outside the basket,
depending on number of passengers and available