Everyone knows that if you want to be an airplane pilot, you must take a special school and spend many years practicing. The same requirements are applied to those who are seeking to be hot air balloon pilots and the process requires a fair amount of money, time, and dedication. Of course, the training is not as long as it is to become a commercial plane pilot but it is a must to finish special school and to earn a particular number of hours of flight experience to get a license.
First, you have to decide what is your purpose to get the license: personal entertainment or business because there are two different types of licenses. The first type is a private license that allows you to fly passengers without charge. The second type is a commercial license that allows you to operate a balloon for hire. If you are seeking a private license you should be at least 16 years old, while only adults who are under 18 years old are able to get the commercial licenses.
Before starting the courses, you must have the medical approval that you are fully healthy and able to deal with different heights, pressure, and air conditions. The detailed specifications of the training depend on the national laws, but usually, the courses are held for a few weeks, around 15 hours of flying experience with an instructor and solo flights are required. The theoretical part is a serious one, so all hot air balloon pilots must keep on top of the theory and read many various books about aviation in general, safety requirements, and activity of ballooning. Finally, the exams of knowledge and practice must be passed. The practical exam might be the most difficult step because even if you do everything under the requirements, the instructor can consider you as an unprepared. In this case, you must take an exam again.
Even though the process of getting your pilot license seems quite clear and easy, it might take a longer time than expected. The courses and process of training cost a lot of money, so you should evaluate your financial situation. Keep in mind that you must pay for the courses, for every flight that is needed to be taken with an instructor and for your solo flights also. Later, you should buy your own hot air balloon, a lot of technical and communication equipment, the balloon insurance is obligatory, and the maintenance must be done every few months.
Another big challenge is the weather. You can make your flying training during the days when it is not windy or rainy, so if you live in northern parts then prepare yourself that one summer might be not enough time to get your license.
Finally, the personal lack of self-confidence might be the biggest challenge for a student. The flow of new information is huge, every student might remember and do a lot of new things and do not lose the ability to focus for a long time. The stress is leading to some failures, and those failures cause a lack of self-confidence. You must prepare yourself to fail, but if you have a strong determination, it will turn into positive results.