Rainbow Ryders Pilot Expertise

The best pilots in the industry!

Jul 8, 2019

Why should you trust our pilots to fly you thousands of feet above ground in a hot air balloon? Let’s take a look at what makes our pilots exceptionally qualified to take you on an adventure!

Rainbow Ryders takes great pride in the excellence of our pilots. Across our three locations in Albuquerque, Phoenix, and Colorado Springs, we have about 20 pilots to fly thousands of passengers a year! Our pilots work hard to make sure every one of those experiences is memorable, fun, and—most of all—safe. So what does it take to become a Rainbow Ryders pilot?

Hot Air Balloon Pilot Expertise - Scott Appelman

Scott Appelman received his commercial pilot license in 1984.

First, you need a pilot license, just as you would for any other aircraft. The process of qualifying for a hot air balloon commercial pilot license is extensive. A prospective pilot would begin by obtaining a student pilot certificate, gradually work up to a private pilot license, and finally earn a commercial pilot license. This involves several written, oral, and flight examinations from the FAA, at least 35 hours of flight experience, and demonstrated proficiency in pre-flight preparation, operation of controls, lift-off, climbs, descents, landings, and emergency procedures. Pilots must also be physically able to assist in handling equipment weighing several hundred pounds, be able to withstand hard landings and work outdoors in extreme temperatures.

Hot Air Balloon Pilot Expertise - Dean Donley

Dean Donley received his commercial pilot license in 2000.

Hot air balloons are a unique form of aircraft and as such provide unique challenges to pilots! An FAA-certified hot air balloon commercial pilot has a great deal of experience and knowledge. For every flight, they collect and analyze weather data, select a proper launch site, inspect the aircraft for flight (including assembly and rigging), and use their knowledge of navigation, communication, and flying in the national airspace system. They must be able to use steerage winds to maneuver the balloon through takeoffs, climbs, level flight, descents, and landings. They are always aware of emergency procedures in case of fuel shortages, fire, or unexpected weather, and are capable of high-performance situations like flying at high altitudes, rapid climbs and descents, high winds, and high temperatures.

Hot Air Balloon Pilot Expertise - Troy Bradley

Troy Bradley received his commercial pilot license in 1982.

In addition to being properly licensed, Rainbow Ryders requires our pilots to have a minimum of 500 flight hours before flying our passengers. We also require a second-class medical certificate to make sure our pilots are always physically capable of operating the balloon. Finally, we hold our pilots to a higher standard of service! They are proficient in the history of ballooning and very knowledgeable about the areas that they fly in. They are friendly, informative, and love what they do! Rainbow Ryders pilots are the best of the best.

Hot Air Balloon Pilot Expertise - Paul Petrehn

Paul Petrehn received his commercial pilot license in 1995.

It’s important to us that our customers can trust our pilots and feel safe so that they can focus on the adventure at hand! Our pilots are experienced, qualified, and professional. As a company, our top priority is the safety of our passengers, and that’s why we require so much from our pilots. Come fly with us and meet some of the best hot air balloon pilots out there; we would love to take you to new heights!