HOW TO BECOME A BALLOON PILOT
Remember the kid at the airport who used to wash your plane for a ride, or pump gas for 3 weeks to earn one lesson? Many balloon ... more
Wouter Cornelis Bakker
Wouter is a Dutch hot air balloon pilot instructor, with a more than 2,000 hours in the air his experience. As air force defence controller he had the opportunity to join a Dutch balloon team preparing a nonstop around the world flight as crew. After the project got postponed he got so hooked that he started taking lessons to obtain his balloon license in a half year. Once he got it, he began flying passengers. Since then he flew already in more than 25 countries.
Wout has his own balloon ride company in Slovakia. Over the years he accumulated lots of experience as balloon meister in many countries. During winters Wout comes as acting chief pilot for the Balloon Adventure Thailand team and as flight instructor for Flying Media Ltd.
Captain Chai Suwatthi
Capt. Chai graduated from the Thai Army Aviation School in Lopburi, after what he served in the army for a while after he got a CPL and Instructor rating for helicopter. Now he still serves as chief helicopter pilot and instructor for one of Thailandís government departments. He logs a more than ten thousand hours experience in the air on much helicopter type. Chai was recruited to become the first Thailand Hot air Balloon licensed pilot, approved by the Thailand Department of Civil Aviation. His experience in a balloon is more than 100 hours, mainly as one of the balloon pilot team of Balloon Adventure Thailand, as he is flying balloons when his duties permit.
Mr Rapee Kornkoseeyakaj
Alumni of Kasetsart University Bsc., Rapee (°1962) joined as hot air balloon pilot the Balloon Adventure Thailand team. This aviation activities lover, retired as a construction entrepreneur, familiar with remote controlled planes for 40 years, wished to join the balloon business and immediately joined the company. First he trained to be a crew for 4 years in the same time learning everything about ballooning. Later on he started training flights in Thailand with companyís chief pilot Mr Wout Bakker. Today he is a pilot for 3 years with more than 100 flying hours and a mere 500 hours tethering. He is now flying the balloons of Balloon Adventure Thailand team, which brought him around the world, flying over several European, Asian countries, the USA, Brazil and still more.
Mr Tawin Dumkhum
Win is a hot air balloon pilot in Thailand for 3 years, Tawin is logging more than 200 flying hours. This aviation lover, was, before he became hot air balloon pilot, Air Line Cargo Sales Representative, when in 2007, Tawin took the opportunity to join Pattaya International Balloon Fiesta as freelance staff organizer. When he fell in love with ballooning, it was time to make a career change; he followed the Thai balloon team everywhere they went.
Trading in his secure job for pilot at Flying Media Co., Ltd. starting as Marketing Manager. In 2008 the company started the pilot training courses according to Thai DCA regulation imposing Thai aviation companies to produce Thai pilots. It took him two years to achieve his license, as he had to combine his work and the training. With his hot air balloon commercial license and his glove on the control leaver he intends to show the passengers that they are in the safe hands.
Mr Nithis Thongdee
Samutprakarn born Nithis the new comer at Balloon Adventure Thailand. For many years he worked in the transportation sector, started as part time balloon crew in Pattaya International Balloon Fiesta for 3 years and finally this ballooning fan, in 2011, got the chance to train to become pilot. Now Nithis got his pilot license with 100 hours tethering and 40 hours flying time.
Nithis are also used to travel many place around the world "I join balloon to see the world".
Ms Bunjira Luanprida
She was born in Bangkok, Thailand. Throughout her education she always excelled in sport and recreation topics. This led working out the creative route. After graduating from Kasetsart University, Bunjira worked as Public Relations with Recreation Resort and Hotel, when in December 2007, she was offered a part time job as liaison officer at the Pattaya International Balloon Fiesta 2007 and decided to join the first festival in Thailand. Bunjira joined many festivals around the world as a crew from Switzerland, Germany, and Netherland till Japan. Talking with many female pilots she got so inspired that she decided to become the first Thai female balloon pilot.
In June 2010, Bunjira started training to become pilot with Balloon Adventure Thailand in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Now she has already flown 40 hours free flights and logged over 50 hours tethering.
Mr. Derek Hancock
Derek was born and grew up in London, England. At age 21 he and his wife, Maureen, moved to California to forward his computer career. After 13 years in California he was relocated by his company to Portland, Oregon.
Derek got involved in ballooning when a co-worker balloon pilot invited him to come help with his balloon. After getting a ride in the balloon, Derek became 'hooked'. When his company decided to relocated to Arizona, Derek decided to use his 'layoff' money to buy his first balloon and started his own balloon ride company.
The company has been successfully giving balloon rides for the past 16 years.
During the wet and cold Oregon winters, Derek and Maureen travel to various balloon festivals in Asia. For the past 2 years Derek has been a pilot for Flying Media, flying passengers in Chiang Mai, Hua Hin, and Khoa Yai.
Mr. Andre van Wyk
Andre a British citizen was born in 1947 in South Africa. After his studies Bsc (Architectural), he joined the army, where he received wings in 1960 after training on Harvards at SAAF's flight training centre near Dunnotter. He is familiar with Vampire jets, Dakotas C3, Hercules C30 and later Super Frelon helicopters. He was introduced to ballooning by Terry Adams in 1977. The CAA regulated ballooning in South Africa during August of 1979 and first licences were issued soon afterwards. He was the 5th pilot to receive a ballooning PPL in South Africa.
Andre returned to South Africa at the end of 1990 and set up Sunrise Balloon Adventures, flying passengers over the game reserves of South Africa and the deserts of Namibia. In 2005 he sold his company to Virgin Balloon Flights and moved to Scotland where he set up a new base for Virgin and work as chief pilot. He also spends time in Tanzania, Turkey, and Portugal. In Thailand he played a role in the organising of the 2007 Pattaya International Balloon Festival to celebrate the King of Thailand's 80th birthday, organised by Flying Media based in Chiang Mai, Thailand. 40 balloons from all over the world participated in this prestigious event. From that moment he also include in Balloon Adventure Thailand team as part time pilot when he is on leisure time in Thailand.
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