BFA Long Jump Challenge

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Started in 1990, the BFA Long Jump is an annual contest to promote the sport of hot air ballooning.  Individual pilots and team members plan and conduct their own flights from launch sites of their own choosing.   The basic rules are "Use 40 gallons of propane, fly as far as you can." The complete rules are below.


  • To promote safe longer distance hot air balloon flight planning and execution
  • To increase BFA membership involvement in the Challenge.
  • To promote sharing the experience via the optional Team Challenge category.
  • To have fun!

BFA Long Jump Committee

Bill Smith           Chair
Tim Cloyd          BFA Board Liaison
    Orv Olivier         Committee Member
    Rich Jaworski    World Records Holder


Rules Version

The rules as posted on the BFA website will remain in force until updated by the Long Jump Committee. 



The seven participation categories are designated in the table below:

Balloon Size

Seven Long Jump Categories



AX-6 and Smaller

AX-6 Team

AX-6 Solo


AX-7 Team

AX-7 Solo


AX-8 Team

AX-8 Solo

AX-9 and Larger

AX-9 Team

Not Allowed 



Team Definition

A balloon carrying a pilot-in-command and a crew member qualifies as a Team category balloon.  The pilot in command must be a current BFA member.  Note:  Person(s) designated as crew are not required to be a licensed pilot.



To encourage greater participation, BFA certificates of participation will be awarded to all pilots and all flightcrew.  Likewise, category winners, pilot and all flight crew members, will each receive a BFA winner certificate.


Incentives to Participate

 The Intangibles:

Improve your duration piloting capability and flight planning skills while establishing your new "personal best" result, even if your improvement is only 10 miles.  Pilots and crew members will be entitled to boast, "I have flown my balloon "X" miles." Become familiar with weather web sites and information as you use the Long Jump program each year to challenge yourself and crew to achieve an increased distance goal and make the 'GO!' or 'NO GO!' decision.  Checking the weather forecasts this winter could become a daily routine to be enjoyed as you start your day. 

Do it for the crew by giving them an opportunity to be involved in a high adventure, marking the high point of a winter with otherwise few flights.  Enhance crew skills in long distance chasing and recovery.


The Tangibles:

Possibly a photo of your balloon and crew in the Winner's Circle in Ballooning!  Publication of your flight story in one of the BFA pages!  Completion of the 100 km or 300 km 'Distance' task for the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale 'Silver' or 'Gold' Sporting Badges, and/or Level 5, Track B: BFA Long Jump of over 75 miles for the BFA Pilot Achievement Award Program, and/or the 35 mile / Three hour flight for Master Crew Chief Level IV of the Crew Achievement Program.


Any current BFA pilot members may enter.  Entry prior to making the flight is not required.  Just download and print the rules and flight report forms.  Plan and complete your flight; then return the completed forms and entry fee(s).  For each Long Jump season, a one-time entrance fee of $10 for each entered BFA pilot and/or a $20 fee for each team is required.  

Flight Report Forms and General Rules

Each pilot-in-command is responsible for planning and executing his or her own flight.  The pilot-in-command is responsible for preparing and submitting the Entry and Flight Report Forms, fees, and attachments.  Pilots-in-command and flight crew persons are required to know, understand, and abide by the BFA Long Jump Challenge rules.

Special care is needed in cold weather and high altitude flights.

 "Fly with your head, not over it."


  1. The contest runs January 1 to December 31.

  2. A pilot may launch with any quantity of fuel but must limit fuel consumption to only 40 gallons or less during the flight to achieve a valid result.
  3. Liftoff and ascent are to be made using the on-board fuel.  Hot inflation "up to equilibrium, may be conducted with an external inflation tank".

  4. Adherence to all FAA Federal Aviation Regulations is required.

  5. Flight at or above 18,000 feet MSL is not permitted.

  6. No items may be dropped during flight

  7. Landing must occur prior to sunset on the day of launch.

  8. The seven category winners are the pilots and their crew and the solo pilots within each category who complete the longest distance flight in a hot air balloon, as calculated from the launch site to the landing site using the great circle calculations. (Reference: FAI Sporting Code Section One -  Aerostats ; Annex 4 - Distance Calculations).

  9. All balloons must be approved FAA Standard Type Certificated.  Balloons with Experimental Certification are not eligible to compete.
  10. Pilots flying as a Solo entry may carry passengers if desired.


Additional Clarifications and Guidance:

 The distance determined by the Long Jump Committee judges will be the Great Circle Distances between the launch and landing locations as calculated using the Latitude and Longitude of the verified locations. The distance claimed may be as measured by the pilot by the best means available to the pilot, but this may be revised by the judges' calculation of the Great Circle Distance. Therefore, the most accurate possible reporting of the Latitude and Longitude, with landmark verification is important.

Pilots must verify the launch and landing locations by completing the appropriate sections of the Flight Report Form, including signatures of persons verifying the information. In addition to stating the Launch and Landing Latitudes and Longitudes, pilots should include a GPS plot of their track.

In the entry for "Method of Determining Fuel Inventory", briefly describe the process for determining the quantity of fuel used during the flight. The pilot may elect:

1) To record pre-flight and post-flight tank weights.

2) To utilize another method to determine that the fuel consumed during the flight was less 40 gallons or less.


Pilots are requested to submit narrative of the flight with this report. The narrative will help in resolving discrepancies, and may also be used in publication stories about the event. Entries on fuel remaining, tank changes, ground speed, altitudes, visibility, etc. are encouraged. Pilots are requested to submit photos of themselves, their crew and the balloon, especially if in-fight activities are shown.

Pilots and Crew are encouraged to utilize their results from the Long Jump Challenge towards achievements and requirements of the FAI Sporting Badge Program, BFA Pilot Achievement Awards Program, and the BFA Crew Achievement Program which each have specific documentation, observer, and qualification requirements.  

Investigate these requirements prior to making the Long Jump flight to determine if the additional requirements can be completed.


Download Application Form

Click to download the FLIGHT REPORT FORM (pdf)

Click to download the FLIGHT REPORT FORM (WORD document)