Adding Gas Rating
What's required to get a Gas Balloon Rating?
Federal Aviation Administration regulation 61.103 states to receive a private pilot license with a balloon rating you must:
A. Be at least 16 years old for a rating in a glider or balloon.
B. Be able to read, speak, write and understand English.
C. Receive a logbook endorsement from an authorized instructor who:
Gordon Bennett Qualification
The following rules will apply to Gordon Bennett Qualification as of December 2018:
3.4 Representatives to Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett
The U.S. is entitled to send three teams of two persons (pilot-in-command plus co-pilot) to the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett (GB) each year. This process selects the pilot-in-command (PIC), who is then free to select his/her co-pilot for participation in the GB.
Representatives to the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett (GB) shall be determined by the results of a BFA Gas Division endorsed qualifying event (such as the America’s Challenge). If three eligible pilots from the endorsed qualifying event do not commit to attend the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett by January 31 of the year of the GB, or in the event that no endorsed qualifying event is declared by the BFA Gas Division, or in the event that no launch occurs during the endorsed qualification event (i.e. event weathered out), then, U.S. representation at the GB shall be opened to pilot(s) who have made the longest, properly documented, pure gas balloon flight in eligible balloons within the qualification period
In order to qualify to represent the U.S. in the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, the PIC must be a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident and a member of the B.F.A. Gas Division. The co-pilot chosen must
Any U.S. PIC who, while representing the U.S. wins the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett, shall be offered the first PIC position for the following year’s Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett. However that PIC may at their discretion elect to delay that privilege by one year in order to compete in the next Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett hosted by the USA.
3.4.1 QUALIFYING EVENT:
The B.F.A. Gas Division Board will determine and announce the endorsed qualifying event for the year. This determination and announcement may not occur until sometime into the calendar year.
U.S. PICs who fly in the qualifying event with a U.S. co-pilot will be offered positions to represent the U.S. in the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett according to the order of their finish.
If less than three pilots accept, then and only then, will qualified co-pilots who flew with a U.S. PIC be offered the remaining spot(s) to represent the U.S. in the order of their finish in the qualifier.
If less than three pilots have accepted, then and only then, will U.S. PICs or co-pilots who flew with a non-U.S. PIC or co-pilot be offered the remaining spot(s) to represent the U.S. in order of their finish in the qualifier.
The selection process shall be managed by the B.F.A. Gas Division Board.
3.4.2 LONGEST, properly documented, pure gas balloon flights
Long distance pure gas balloon flights or “long jump” flights can occur at any time during the qualification period to be considered as a qualifying long distance flight for possible selection to represent the U.S. at the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett for the following year. Flights must originate from the U.S. Long distance flights will be considered for selection of PICs if sufficient pilots are not selected from the results of a qualifying event, or the qualifying event was not held.
Documentation for multiple flights can be submitted, but only one documented flight can be used per year per PIC as a GB qualifying long distance flight. In the case that a PIC has more than one flight, only the longest flight will be considered. All qualifying flights will be ranked in order of total great circle distance from longest distance to shortest distance.
The PIC will be considered for selection to represent the U.S. according to their documented distance results as long as the flight was with co-pilot(s) that are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of U.S. The PIC with the greatest distance will be selected first, than the next PIC until all available spots for the U.S. team to the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett are filled. The PIC must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S. and be a member of the B.F.A. Gas Division.
If, after all PICs who made a documented, qualifying flight have been offered a spot on the U.S. team, and less than three pilots have accepted, then and only then, will qualifying co-pilots be offered the remaining PIC spot(s) in order of finish in qualifying flights. To be a qualified co-pilot, that pilot must be either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident of the U.S., be a member of the B.F.A. Gas Division , and hold at least a private LTA pilot certificate without a restriction issued by the F.A.A.
Lastly, U.S. PICs doing a long distance flight with a non U.S. co-pilot(s) who made a documented qualifying flight will be considered based on their distance achieved on their flight.
The selection process shall be managed by the B.F.A. Gas Division Board.
Eligible Balloon Systems and Lifting Gases
Balloon systems shall be FAI Category AA with a maximum volume of 1,000 cubic meters, with a 5% volume allowance for measurement and construction uncertainty. Only helium or hydrogen may be used to inflate and fly the balloon system.
The qualification period shall be January 1 thru December 31 of the year proceeding the year of the GB. Example: for the 2020 GB, the qualification period is the calendar year 2019. Flights must begin and end within the qualifying period.
Flight Documentation Requirements
All flight records and documentation shall be submitted to the B.F.A. Gas Division no later than January 31 of the GB competition year.
Flight documentations to be submitted are:
- The name, address, phone number, e-mail address and BFA number of the person acting as PIC for the qualifying flight;
- The name, address, phone number, e-mail address and BFA number, if applicable, of the person(s) acting as co-pilot(s) for the qualifying flight;
- The date(s), duration (hours), launch and landing location (name and GPS coordinates) for the flight;
- The make, model and identifying number of the aircraft used;
- A trajectory map of the flight showing track over ground for the flight;
- An electronic recording showing flight altitudes for the flight;
- A flight log showing all ATC contacts made during the flight;
- A landing document showing a map of the local area of the landing. This shall be signed by an official or witness (Phone number and email address should be included.) who viewed the landing or was present at the landing site while the system was still deployed on the ground;
- Photographs of the landing site with the balloon deployed.
Incomplete documentation will be cause for rejection of any application.
The Gas Division Board may disqualify a submission if any FAA/ATC or civil violations are found to have occurred during the flight.
Interested in Forming A Gas Balloon Club?
Aero Club of America - NC Chapter
Aero Club of America - NC Chapter is a gas club in North Carolina formed for the purpose of Gas Balloon Flight. The club provides shared expense, training, community of shared interests, and an opportunity to obtain your free balloon rating with no limitations. The guiding principle is "Safety", of course. All operational guidlines are provided to ensure safe flight and world class flying experiences.
Gas Division By-Laws approved
In the 2020 Summer election, Gas Division members approved an updated set of By-Laws. Those updated by-laws can be viewed by "logged-in" Gas division members by clicking on the BOARD MEMBERS tab and selecting DIVISION BY-LAWS.
Contact a Division Boad member for more information at BOARD MEMBERS.
What is it like to fly in a gas balloon? These articles will share some of the fun of gas ballooning.
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