United States Hot Air Balloon License

In the United States, you must comply with the Federal Aviation Administration’s requirements to get your license.

Types of licenses

There are three licenses that the FAA gives out. A student license, a private license, and a commercial license. Each license requires more experience and qaulifications.

A student license doesn’t actually allow you to fly a balloon on your own. It allows you to obtain a private license. To receive a student license, the following must apply to you:

  • Be 14 years or older
  • Speak, write, and understand English
  • Have no medical conditions that would disallow you to fly safely

If you meet the requirements, you can fill out the application and receive a student license.

A private license allows you to fly by yourself as well as with passengers. You cannot charge for rides, nor advertise on your balloon. A commercial license is needed for that. The following are the requirements to obtain a private license:

  • 16 years or older
  • 10 hours of flight experience
  • 6 flights accompanied by an instructor
  • 1 solo flight
  • 1 flight of at least 2,000 feet above the takeoff point
  • 2 flights of 1 hour each within 60 days prior to a rating application
  • Pass an oral and written exam
  • Pass a flight test

A commercial license allows you to charge for flights as well as advertise on your balloon. To obtain a commercial license, you must complete the following:

  • 18 years or older
  • 35 hours of flight experience
  • 20 hours of pilot experience
  • 10 flights
  • 2 flights as the pilot
  • 10 hours of advanced training including 10 training flights
  • Pass an oral and written exam
  • Pass a flight test

How can I find training?

Fill out the form below and we will get you in touch with the top instructors in the United States.


    Besides finding an instructor, the following resources will help you out.

    The Balloon Flying Handbook is published by the FAA themselves. This guide is a great resource for new students as it will introduce you to the theory behind ballooning.

    The Student Pilot Guide is also published by the FAA. This is a more practical guide that gives you tips and strategies to get through flight school.

    The last resource is we recommend is The Ballooning Manual.

    Note: We make a small commission if you decide to purchase one of the resources above. We do this only because of how strongly we believe in the product.

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