Interest increases in balloon pilot training

Interest increases in balloon pilot training

NEVŞEHİR - Anatolia News Agency
Interest increases in balloon pilot training

To get a hot air balloon pilot license, participants attend four months of theoretical and applied training. When they finish the training, the pilots don’t begin flights until they have 100 hours of flight experience. AA photos

The Central Anatolian region of Cappadocia, where the hot air balloon business is very popular thanks to its geographical location, also draws people for balloon pilot courses.

The Private Cappadocia Kaya Balloons Flight Education School, which was opened in Ürgüp town, has so far graduated 112 balloon pilots with an education program approved by the Ministry of Education and the Civil Aviation Authority.

Instructor pilot Volkan Ağbulut said training had started in April 2011 and they had recently opened the seventh term of the balloon pilot course. He said the Cappadocia region was one of the most suitable places in the world to fly due to its geographical formations and that nearly 130 hot air balloon tours were organized a day in the region.

Ağbulut said they had decided to open such a course after seeing the increasing potential.

HDN “Cappadocia has 21 balloon companies and some 170 certified balloons owned by these companies. We see that it was a good decision to open a course because there is great demand. We meet the needs of pilots for balloon companies in the region.”

He said 112 people had so far received private pilot licenses and 70 had received commercial licenses, while 95 of them had found jobs with the companies in the region.

Ağbulut said to get the license, participants attended four months of theoretical and applied training. “We give education in 12 different branches including communications, radio and meteorology classes and they fly for 25 hours. According to the weather conditions, the courses last for three to four months. When participants pass the exams made by the officials of the Civil Aviation General Directorate and Provincial Directorate for National Education, they get the balloon private pilot license.”

The pilots did not directly begin flights but should get 100-hour flight experiences during other training, he said.

HDN Camp center in Göreme

Ağbulut said the first class began early in the morning in the camp center in Göreme and students were taking applied training and seeing the possible risks in the air. “After having 60 hours of experience without passengers, students attend 50 hours of theoretical education. Once they get the license, they have right to make commercial flights with 12-person balloons and start working with a wage of 3,500 Turkish Liras. After 100 hours of experience, the pilots begin to operate larger balloons. In accordance with the legislation of the Civil Aviation Authority, pilots should renew their license every two years.”

Among the students, 18-year-old Büşra Pınardağ said she had been interested in the sky since graduating from high school and decided to attend the courses. When she finishes the course, Pınardağ will be the youngest hot air balloon pilot.

Another student, Ümit Kışar, said he was working in the tourism sector and attended the course since he loved being in the sky. “It is very exciting to be in the sky. Applied training is very enjoyable. We fly in hot air balloons early in the morning in Göreme.”