United Kingdom Hot Air Balloon License

How to get your license

In the United Kingdom, you must have a Balloon Pilot’s License (BPL) in order to pilot a balloon. The only way to obtain a BPL is by registering with the British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC).

Once you register with the BBAC, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Hold a LAPL or Class 2 aviation medical
  • Have 16 hours of flying experience
  • 12 hours flying with an instructor
  • 10 inflations and 20 take-offs and landings
  • 1 solo flight of 30 minutes or more
  • Pass a skills test

As well as pass the 6 written examinations:

  • Air Law
  • Human Performance
  • Meteorology
  • Communications
  • Balloon Navigation
  • Balloon Systems

You can see all of the requirements on the BBAC website.

Once completed you will receive your license.

How to maintain your license

Once you obtain your license, you must meet certain requirements to keep it. These requirements are:

  • At least 6 hours and at least 10 flights in a rolling 24 month period
  • Complete a satisfactory training flight with an instructor every 48 months

In the UK the ‘Private Pilot’s Licence, Balloons and Airships’ is in two parts. Practical and theory.

A trainee pilot requires the following:

  • Minimum of 16 hours flying instruction within 24 months
  • A minimum of 6 flights (take-off and landing)
  • Four flights with a British Balloon and Airship Club (BBAC) approved instructor
  • Must keep a BBAC training log (BBAC Requirement)
  • Must be recommended by a BBAC approved instructor for a flight test
  • A check flight with a CAA appointed examiner
  • Perform a solo flight under supervision of CAA Examiner
  • The minimum age is 17

Four written examinations have to also be taken and passed with the 24 month window:

  • Air Law
  • Navigation/Meteorology
  • Balloon Systems
  • Human Performance

A medical declaration of fitness signed by a GP must also be provided.

Some other useful CAA ballooning publications are:

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