Transport/Chase Vehicle

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 vehicle are:

  • 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 your crew.
  • 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 transport/chase vehicle.
  • Miscellaneous Items

  • 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 valve.
  • 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 hand.
  • • 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 room.
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