Crew Responsibilities

The policy regarding expectations of crew help at landing is—if you cannot land the balloon without help, you should not be flying. It is not always possible for the chase crew to be at the landing site, so plan to land without assistance.

If the crew is at the landing site and clearly able to render assistance, you have options. Have the crew pull the balloon across a field to the road while it is still inflated or gently lead the inflated balloon away from any possible obstacles.

The crew is of no help in a windy landing. Crew will only be of assistance after the basket has stopped moving. There is a possibility of people on the ground being injured while trying to assist with a windy landing—even a moderately windy landing.

Remember that a 77,000 cubic foot balloon has a momentum weight of several tons. Do not ever get in front of a moving balloon basket.

Deploying a drop line is useful only if the crew is strong, healthy, trained, and wearing gloves. Rarely should a pilot ask a stranger for assistance during landing. Use great care with a drop line, or handling line and use only in very light or calm winds.

Injuries in ballooning are few, and most happen during landing. If you are carrying passengers, your goal is to provide them with the gentlest landing possible in the best possible site. When flying alone, practice landings so you know how to control your balloon at the end of the flight.

Maintaining Good Relations With Landowners

The greatest threat to the continued growth of ballooning is poor landowner relations. The emphasis should be to create and maintain good relations with those who own and work the land that balloonists fly over and land on. Balloon pilots must never forget that at most landing sites, they are unexpected visitors.

An assuming balloonist may think the uninvited visit of a balloon is a great gift to individuals on the ground. The balloon pilot may not know the difference between a valuable farm crop and uncultivated land. A balloonist may not notice the grazing cattle. A chase vehicle driver may drive fast down a dirt road raising unnecessary dust. A crewmember may trample a valuable crop.

There are several situations where a balloon pilot or crew may anger the public. When people are angered, they demand action from the local police, county sheriff, FAA, or an attorney. The FAA does not initiate an investigation without a complaint. The balloonist is the one who initiates the landowner relation’s problem.

How can balloonists ease the effect they have on people on the ground? First, develop your skills to allow yourself the widest possible choices of landing sites. If you fly in farmland, as many balloonists do, wear what is customary for the area. Make sure your crew is trained to respect the land, obey traffic laws, and be polite to everyone they come in contact with. The crew should always get permission for the balloon to land and the chase vehicle to enter private property.

You should learn the trespass laws of your home area. You should be able to find them at the library. In some states, it is very difficult for the balloon pilot and passengers to trespass, but very easy for the chase vehicle and crew to trespass.

If you land on the wrong side of a locked gate or fence, the first thing your chase crew should do is try to find the landowner or resident to get permission to enter. If no one can be found, it may be necessary to carry the balloon and lift it over the fence.

Do not cut or knock down fences, as it will probably be considered trespassing. In some places, even the possession of fence-cutting and fence-repairing tools may be interpreted as possession of burglary tools, creating liabilities. Pilot and crew should have a clear understanding of what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

Sometimes local law enforcement people will arrive at the scene of a balloon-landing site. Someone may have called them or they may have seen the balloon in the air. They may just be interested in watching the balloon (which is usually the case), or they may think a legal violation has occurred. If law enforcement people approach you, always be polite. They probably do not know much about federal law regarding aviation. However, even if they are wrong and you know they are wrong, there is no point in antagonizing them with a belligerent attitude. It is better to listen than to end up in court.

Chase crews should always be friendly to farm workers and other local workers. The person you waved to last week may be the tractor driver who pulls your chase vehicle out of a muddy rut next week. Figure 3-2 is suggested information pilots should give to all crewmembers titled, Landowner Relations Information Sheet. Keep copies in your chase vehicle and go over them with all crewmembers, including pickup crew at events.

One of your most important concerns is landowner relations. The continued availability of balloon landing sites depends on good landowner and public relations. Constant vigilance by balloon pilots and crews to do no harm to the land and be considerate of people and property on the ground is a must.

 ŠAvStop Online Magazine                                                                                                                                                       Contact Us              Return To Books

AvStop Aviation News and Resource Online Magazine

Grab this Headline Animator