Learn to fly

The answer is pretty simple — just give us a call at the Cameron factory. We can put you in touch with the right people for training and for getting involved in your local balloon organization. We can also, of course, put you into a new Cameron, or help you locate a used balloon. And you can trust that we’ll be here to help you with all the other things you’ll need to make ballooning satisfying for you, both before you buy and after you receive your new balloon.

The more than 80 Cameron representatives around the United States are required by the Cameron factory to have a commercial pilot certificate, experience with several types of balloons, and significantly higher flying experience than is required by the FAA. If we do not have a qualified representative offering instruction near you, we will work to put you in touch with a balloonist in your area with a good reputation as an instructor.

What regulations apply to balloons?

Several FAA Regulations apply to balloons. Those that apply include:

• Part 61: Pilot Licensing (see “What are the FAA license requirements” below)
• Part 91: Flying regulations (same as for light planes).
• Part 45: Aircraft maintenance…as defined by the balloon manufacturer.

What are the FAA license requirements?

A student pilot’s certificate is needed before commencing flight training. To gain a student certificate, the applicant must be at least 14 years of age, be able to read, speak and understand the English language, and must certify that s/he has no medical defect that makes him/her unable to pilot a free balloon.

The successful completion of flight training leads to a private pilot certificate, lighter-than-air category with a free balloon class rating. With more experience and training, the pilot can attain a commercial license, which enables the pilot to fly for hire or to instruct others to fly.


• Minimum age 16 years
• 10 hours balloon flight experience including:
• 6 balloon flights under the supervision of an instructor.
• One solo flight.
• One flight to at least 2000 feet above the take of point.
• Two flights of at least 1 hour each with 60 days prior to application for the rating.
• An oral and written exam.
• Flight test.


• Minimum age 18 years.
• 35 hours flight time including:
• 20 hours in balloons.
• 10 flights in balloons.
• Two flights in balloons as the pilot in command.
• 10 hours of training including 10 training flights.
• An oral and written exam.
• Flight test.

How do I get trained as a pilot?

Call the Cameron Balloons factory for an instructor referral.

How expensive is training?

Normally costs to obtain your private pilot’s license will vary from $2,000 to $4,500. Training in your own balloon would be the least expensive.

What equipment do I need, aside from a balloon?

A trailer, van or pickup truck, an inflation fan, and 2-way radios (optional but recommended)

How expensive is a balloon?

New: Our Concept series balloons start at around $35,000 for a ready-to-fly complete system, including the balloon envelope, basket gondola, two 15 gallon fuel tanks, burner, and instruments. Used balloons range in price from $8,000 to $25,000.

How do I decide what balloon to buy?

Some of the many considerations include the size of balloon suitable for receiving instruction, ease of getting service, insurability, type of equipment needed for local flying conditions, warranty, and resale value.

What about insurance costs?

That depends on the type, size, and brand of balloon and how it will be used. Average annual premiums for a private pilot range from $800 to $1,400.

Are there any publications on ballooning?

Ballooning Journal, (quarterly), published by the Balloon Federation of America (BFA), the national organization for ballooning: P.O. Box 400, Indianola, IA 50125. Phone (515) 961-8809

Balloon Life Magazine, (monthly), 2336 – 47 Avenue S.W., Seattle, WA 98116-3649. Phone 206-935-3649.

Where can I fly a balloon?

Legally, just about everywhere (except around major airports). Functionally, everywhere except in midtown large cities or close to large airports.

Do balloons compete?

YES! Balloons from many countries compete in the World Championships. The U.S. Nationals attracts over 100 balloons annually, and nearly 100 local balloon competitions around the USA qualify pilots for national competition. For more information on competition, please go to the “Experience” tab at the top menu and then click on “Competitions”.

Where do I get more information?

Call Cameron Balloons (734) 426-5525, or continue to surf our web page.