IF YOU WERE PLANNING TO HAVE A BRAND NEW CAREER, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY ABOUT BECOMING A BALLOON PILOT? IT IS IN YOUR HANDS TO SECURE YOUR FUTURE WITH A HIGH SALARY AND BESIDES CONQUERING THE SKIES…
Anyone who visits Cappadocia would like to soar in the sky in a giant balloon at least once to watch the beautiful bird’s-eye view of Nevşehir. Kapadokya Balloons Balloon Aviation School, which was founded in 2010 in Ürgüp, trains its pilots that fly you in the air following a curriculum approved by the Ministry of National Education. We are used to professions such as doctor of medicine, engineer, lawyer or dentist but what about balloon piloting? Hakan İris, trainer and balloon pilot at private Kapadokya Balloons Balloon Aviation School, gives interesting clues about this profession to young people who are planning their future career.
One of the longest established balloon companies of Nevşehir Kapadokya Kaya Balloons offers services with thirteen balloons in different capacities. They have balloons with a capacity of twenty-eight as well as having special balloons with a small capacity of two or three. The center offers balloon piloting services to domestic and foreign tourists as well as training young pilots. We had a chat with Hakan İrisi who works as a pilot and a trainer at the center about his profession full of adrenalin. Started his balloon piloting training within Turkish Aviation Association in 2005, Hakan İrisi expresses that the age group of the people who are trained by the center changes between twenty and thirty-five. İrisi also mentions that the center has trained six female pilots and emphasizes that it is necessary to obtain a private pilot license before obtaining a commercial pilot license. İrisi says that it takes minimum one year for a pilot candidate to obtain a commercial pilot license and summarizes the first level of the process: “A pilot candidate should obtain a private pilot license (PPL) first. We follow an academic curriculum for one hundred hours as well as aviation training for two and a half hours. As soon as pilot candidates pass the last exam held by Civil Aviation General Directorate (CAGD), they are reserved the right to a PPL. The Turkish citizens who are over the age of eighteen can apply for balloon piloting training. Required qualifications are being a high-school graduate and submitting a secondary health certificate.”
THERE ARE LEVELS OF PILOT TRAINING
When pilots who hold a PPL would like to start commercial flights, they are going to encounter with a different training agenda. Hakan İrisi remarks that those pilots should complete a sixty-five hours of practice flights in six months, and continues: “Following those flights, pilots who would like to obtain a commercial pilot license (CPL) should apply to our school to complete a forty-five hours of academic training and a fifteen hours of flight training. After the completion of this training they should pass the exam held by CAGD.”
Wages of balloon pilots range between 1.500-3.000 Euros. One pilot can make only one daily flight. Shift of a balloon pilot starts at 4 am and ends at 9 am following the completion of the tour. Standard flights run about one hour but sometimes they might continue up to one and a half hour. Hakan İrisi who has a 2.500 hours of flight experience highlights that the hot air ballooning is the mode of flight with the least number of accidents of the aviation history. İrisi who states that he hadn’t had an accident until today says, “In this business, you wake up to each work day as if it is your first day on the job. You fly every day but you never get tired of telling or listening to stories. Being in the sky is being in another world where freedom meets joy…”
HOW TO FLY A HOT AIR BALLOON
Let’s get to the question that the most people ask! How does a hot air balloon pilot flies his balloon in which he carries domestic and foreign tourists through the sky? Hakan İrisi explains the process step by step: “Balloons can only travel with the wind. Based on this, when you want to inflate a balloon, first thing you need to do is to take the wind behind you. Then the balloon is spread out on the ground. The ground crew tries to open the mouth so the cool air could fill inside. The cool air is obtained through fans located on both sides of the balloon. The balloon takes a suitable shape to be inflated. The cool air inside the balloon is heated through the burners located in the basket and the balloon lifts off becoming ready to fly. As air inside the balloon is heated through the burners, it rises and gains altitude. Level flight is made through fractional ignitions to keep the balloon at a certain level. The hot air inside the balloon is allowed to cool to descend. The principal of flying a hot air balloon is based on the principal of heat transfer. The heated air rises and moves with the wind and a certain distance can be traveled.”