#1.) Are you a member of the BFA/PRO?
The Professional Ride Operators (PRO) is a division of the Balloon Federation of America (BFA). PRO is an organization whose sole goal is to ensure safety, reliability, and accountability throughout the balloon ride industry. Operators who carry a PRO certification have agreed to operate their balloon ride companies under standards that exceed those set forth by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
#2.) How long have you been operating/flying in the area?
Pilots that know the area well will know the best launch and landing sites, and will have a good understanding of the local weather.
#3.) Do you have a commercial pilot FAA certificate?
In order to take paying passengers, the pilot is required to have additional training and testing to earn the Commercial rating from the Federal Aviation Administration. Private rated pilots are not allowed to fly paying passengers.
#4.) What Insurance coverage does your company carry and is is current?
PRO pilots are required to have a current insurance policy in place. Ask to see a certificate if you are concerned.
#5.) What is your safety record/accident history?
PRO members excercise the upmost in safety procedures. Continuing education training, practicing emergency procedures, and full flight reviews every other year are required for PRO membership.
#6.) Will you be flying our ride, or are you just a booking agency?
It is CRITICAL for you to know if you are dealing with the persons who will be flying you, or some far away booking company. When possible, work directly with the company that will be flying the balloon.
*Be sure you choose a reputable hot air balloon ride company with proven safety record. It is important to keep in mind when researching the company's experience to look at the number of reviews and ratings as well as the quality of the scores.
Along with PRO there are many other review sites that can be great resources, such as:Trip Advisor, Google, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Better Business Bureau, Local Federal Aviation Administration Office, and the Local Convention Visitor Bureau and Chamber of Commerce.
If you need help finding a reputable operator in your area, please feel free to contact any of the BFA-PRO operators. We are happy to refer you to a reputable operator near you.