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This section will be dedicated to the safe operations for the ground crew.

We have just a couple of rules for our balloon as far as ground crew

1) Don't be afraid to ask questions. Both the pilot and crew chief are excellent teachers and do not mind answering questions. If you ask a question and do not get a response, it could be we didn't hear you. Setting up a balloon at a rally has many balloons trying to inflate all at the same time. The crew chief will instruct all new crew members on the operations before we assemble the balloon. Also, he will be walking around the balloon during inflation to make sure you are positioned correctly and to answer last minute questions.

2)Only take direction from either the pilot or crew chief. We have certain ways we like to do things. All systems are different so do not assume that all pilots are the same in what they want.

3) No SMOKING on the field. Hot air balloons are powered by propane. Before inflation, almost all balloons will test the burners and may release propane into the air waiting for a spark to ignite it.

4) Always wear your gloves while handling the balloon and also only handle the balloon by the load tapes. Rings and sharp finger nails can cause a rip in the balloon. Wearing your gloves prevents this from happening. Only pulling the balloon by the load tapes also prevents rips and tears.

5) Never step on or over the balloon. For the same reason as wearing your gloves, shoes can also be deadly to the balloon. The reason we do not step over the balloon is if you lose your balance you are going to land on the balloon. It only takes a few more seconds to walk AROUND the balloon.

6) Do not be afraid to ask for help when lifting parts of the system. The envelope and basket weigh several hundred pounds and are very awkard to lift. Do not try to be a super hero and lift these by yourself. Again. it only takes a few extra seconds to do it safely.

7) The final rule is very crucial to the safe operation of the balloon- HAVE FUN!!!

I am ready to head to the launch site what should I think about wearing?

1) Dress in layers. It can be cold in the morning but after some activity and the sun starts to warm up it can get very warm. Do not wear nylon. Cotton is very good for ballooning.

2) Long pants- Wear jeans or other long pants. Wearing pajama bottoms is not recommended as the loose fitting clothing could get caught in something.

3) hiking boots or regular boots. The balloon launches early in the morning. Often the dew point and temperture are close so that means the field can be a little damp. Also, most landing sites are not paved parking lots but bumpy fields. It is best to have protection for you feet so you do not break your ankle.

4) Gloves. Gloves are a vital part ballooning. You will need them for the setup and take down of the balloon.

5) No extrememly loose clothing. Loose clothing can get caught during set up or take down of the balloon and cause damgae not only to your clothes but also to the equipment. Long hair should be tied back for the same reason.

6) Other items you may want. Sunglasses, and backpack. The backpack is so that as you take off your layers you have a place to keep your stuff.

Assembling the Balloon

This section of the crew manual will focus on unloading the balloon from the trailer and getting it assembled for launch.

When you arrive at the launch field, the pilot and crew chief will be there beginning to survey the site. They are looking over the field to make sure there are no sharp objects on the field and any garbage left from previous persons is picked up.

After the site has been looked over we will begin to unload the balloon. The first thing that will come out will be 3 canvas tarps. These tarps protect the basket and keep the balloon dry while we are connecting it to the basket.

The envelope tub will come out next. We use a blue tub that has four wheels on it for easy transport of the envelope. This will be positioned at the end of the last tarp with the contents still in the tub. The pilot and crew chief will connect the envelope to the basket.

The fan is removed next. Please use care with this equipment as it contains gas and oil and if tipped over will cause damage. Check the level of the gas and if needed add gas. There will be a gas container in a red basket for this.

Now comes the basket and uprights. It is best if 3-4 people unload the basket as it is both heavy and awkard. The basket will be placed at the front of the first tarp. The pilot and crew will install the uprights. On our balloon, there are white tape marks to indicate which holes to use.

With the uprights connected to the basket, the pilot or crew chief will attach the propane lines and do a test burn. This test burn not only checks the burner for proper operation but also checks the connection so there are no leaks present.

After the test burn, the basket will be tipped on its side to begin the connection of the envelope. At this point, the fan should be at the left side of the basket near the uprights. The pilot or crew chief will begin connecting the cables to the basket. Also, during this point the crew chief will begin to instruct each crew member of the safe way to operate the cables. He will also instruct you where to place your feet and show you the best way to hold the cables during inflation. On our balloon, at the mouth, there is a rope. It is very important that this rope not be let go until directed by the pilot.

After all connections have been made, the crew instructed and questions answerwed, the pilot will return from the pilot briefing and begin inflation

The Launch

At this time, the balloon is inflated and completely vertical, still connected to the tie-off rope, with most of the crew providing weight on the basket. The pilot will load passengers and then begin to heat the balloon to reach buoyancy. The pilot will call for "weight on!", meaning for all crew to place their full weight on the basket keeping one foot on the ground at all times. Once flight temperature is near, the pilot will call for "hands on!", meaning to take most of your weight off the basket keeping your hands on the basket in case weight is needed again quickly. This process make take several cycles.

When ready for launch, the pilot will release the tie-off rope. Be sure to be cautious as the rope may spring back toward the chase vehicle. The pilot will ask you to walk the balloon out as he ascends. "Light hands on" is all that is required at this time. Once released, be sure to wave at the pilot and passengers.

The Chase

Once the pilot has left the ground, the Crew Chief will direct the ground portion of the flight. Load the fan making sure it is properly tied off both the top and in floor tie downs will be used, tie-off ropes, and any other items left in the launch field. Be sure to scan the launch area for anything left (garbage, hats, small children). Secure items in the chase vehicle as directed by the Crew Chief. Load up the crew and prepare to "chase" the balloon.

The "chase" crew is incorrectly named. The "Lead" crew is more appropriate as the pilot usually prefers the crew try to stay in front of the balloon. Some rules to follow in the "Chase" are:

* Follow standard driving rules

* Don't wreck the chase vehicle

* Balloons are pretty to watch, but make sure someone is paying attention to driving. At all times for I'll Fly Away Balloon team, The driver drives and the navigator spots the balloon.

* Stay on the roads, but don't block them

* Don't drive on property without permission

* Don't let spectators follow you onto private property

* Use the radio sparingly - the pilot may be busy

* Use the radio correctly. When you are calling the pilot the correct way is to say "I'll Fly Away Chase to I'll Fly Away Balloon."  The pilot when he call down to the chase crew will say "I'll Fly Away Balloon to I'll Fly Away Chase."

When you respond from the pilot, say "Go Ahead I'll Fly Away Balloon, this is Chase."

*Be respectful on the radio. Other crews use the same frequency as we do and we do not want to overuse the radios and not let other crews communicate with thier pilots.

* Do Not use foul langauge on the radio. These frequencies are not private channels and can be picked up by anybody.

* Try to stay ahead and look for landing sites. Look for access into the field. Is there a fence? Does the fence open? Are there no tresspassing signs present? Are there power lines in the field? These are questions you should be looking for so when the pilot states I am going to land in that field you can notify him of what is present and he can make his decision to land or to fly on.

* The pilot can land without you, so don't panic.

* Don't get in front of a landing basket. A balloon and basket, when inflated, can weigh 3000-4000 pounds and you will get hurt if you get in front of the basket. When the pilot is landing, get behind the basket and keep your weight on the basket until directed it is ok to let go.

* Be patient and courteous at all times

* Try to get permission from landowners after the pilot indicates a landing is planned. I'll Fly Away Crew will get landowner permission for the pilot and will radio up to the pilot whether or not this is a good site.

* If the pilot indicates a "drop line" landing is planned, grab the line with your gloved hand and act as an anchor - don't pull down. Follow the instructions of the crew chief.He will direct the proper use of a drop line in the chase vehicle before one is to be used.


Landowners are as important to the operations of I'll Fly Away Balloon team as the crew is. Remember, even if you do not ever crew for another balloon again, good landowner relations is essential to the future of ballooning.

Balloons typically don't land just at airports. Landing and launches from private property are common and it is important to respect the property of others. In the ideal situation of landing on private property, the chase crew will have found and asked permission of the land owner prior to landing and will have reported this information by radio to the pilot. Very often this is not the case, since the pilot may have to make the landing before all this happens. Be extremely courteous and inform the landowner that your crew would like permission to land and recover the balloon. Assure them that you will exercise caution to protect their property and ask (if possible) if the recovery vehicle can drive to the balloon. If the balloon has landed in crops or is in an inaccessible area, the balloon system may need to be carried out. Be careful where you step as farmers count on their crops for their livelihood.

Most landowners don't mind having balloons land on their property, provided care was taken not to produce damage. In that regard, never drive onto private property without permission first. Also, be aware that on-lookers may want to follow you in. Only the recovery vehicle is needed. Keep everyone else out.

In a rare occasion when a landowner is upset about the landing, communicate this to the pilot discretely. The pilot may elect to fly on. If it is too late for that and you are faced with an upset landowner, do not argue with them. Indicate to the landowner that you will get the pilot and the pilot only will deal with the landowner. Remember that it is their land, and that you are trespassing!

Typically after the balloon is packed away and the landowners thanked, a celebration begins. Sparkling Cidar and soft drinks are served and shared with the landowners and crew to thank them for their help. New passengers are often inducted into the "Aeronaut" society. Tall stories are shared about previous flights and new stories are written of the recent adventure.

Other Helpful information not included in the manual

*What do I do if I lose contact with the pilot?

If you loose contact with the pilot, stay calm. Continue to drive in the direction that you last spotted him. It is possible that you will be able to spot him this way. If the pilot has radioed that he is landing or has landed and you still do not see him be patient. The pilot is very skilled and can land without you. It is always best before launch of the balloon that both the pilot and crew have each other cell numbers for such an instance. DO NOT call the pilot during flight as the pilot is busy flying the balloon. Only call after you confirm he has landed and you still do not see him and have lost radio contact with him.

*What channel do you use?

We regularly use channel 14 sub channel 1 while flying. During flight if that channel has a lot of traffic we will switch channels. Make sure you know how to switch the channel before liftoff.

*What if someone asks for a ride in the balloon?

You, as crew, are not allowed to make decisions as to the ability to take passengers in the balloon. If one asks, tell them politely that you do not have the answer and if they are curious to follow behind you and wait until the balloon has landed and pack up has begun. The person can then ask the pilot this information.

*What to do in an emergency?

Although we never expect an emergency to arise, it is necessary to know what to do. In the event of emergency such as power line strike, KEEP EVERYONE AWAY FROM THE BALLOON. This includes police until the power company has confirmed the power is shut off. Power companies will keep sending voltages onto the line until the problem is cleared. The reason for doing this is 99.9 percent of the time the problem causing a power outage is a tree branch. The more voltage applied will finally blow the branch off the line and power can resume. When you call rescue personnel, notify them you are crew for a hot air balloon. Tell them your location and have them contact the power company. After making the call, determine if the road is safe for all traffic. If not position your vehicle so no one can get through. Set out flares and have flaggers assisting with traffic. The media may arrive. DO NOT talk with the media about the incident. Let only the pilot or crew chief take care of this. Both are trained in media relations.

Pilot- Greg

(503) 510-7835

I’ll Fly Away Balloon Adventures

                                                                     Serving Central and Western Oregon