Balloon Excelsior is the oldest Balloon Flight School in the country. We have taught hundreds of students and have been in business longer than any other FAA-approved school. Our instructors meet the high standards required by Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 61. You can start from scratch with us, add-on a balloon rating, or complete a course of instruction started elsewhere.
We offer two courses in our school:
The Private course is based on 10 hours of flight training and 10 hours of ground training; the Commercial course is 20 or 35 hours of flight training and 20 hours of ground training.
To enroll in the Commercial course, an applicant must hold an FAA Private certificate, which can be in any category of aircraft. If a Student certificate is required, it will be issued prior to the start of instruction for those enrolling in the Private course.
Our courses, which exceed minimum FAA requirements, include
at least the following subjects: aircraft familiarization, preflight
inflation and launch procedures, level flight, ascents and descents,
crew briefing, Federal Aviation
Regulations, emergency and abnormal situations, high altitude and long distance planning and flying, cold weather and mountain flying, balloon maintenance and preservation, landowner and agricultural considerations, and, for the Commercial course, fundamentals of instruction and learning.
To be eligible to enroll, an applicant must be at least 16
years old, able to read, speak, write, and understand the English
language, and hold at least a Student pilot certificate, which must be issued before enrollment The course includes a minimum of 10
hours of flight time, which includes a flight to 5000 feet, 2
solo flights, and 10 hours of ground training. A passing score
on 3 written tests is required for certification: the FAA Private
Pilot Free Balloon Knowledge Test, the Balloon Excelsior Pre-solo
written test, and the Balloon Excelsior Final written test.
The final stage of both courses is a flight and oral review by an instructor, to determine that the student has the required knowledge, judgment, and proficiency to pass the FAA Practical Test (certification flight). At the conclusion of this review, the student will either be graduated from the course and recommended for a Certification Flight, or be advised in which areas more instruction or practice is required.
At the completion of training, the student will be prepared for certification in accordance with all pertinent FAA regulations. The fee for the FAA Practical Test, charged by an FAA Examiner, is usually around $350.
Our courses are very demanding. Students must be prepared for
intensive training and must be in good health. Home study is required.
We are not tied to any manufacturer, and work with many brands
of balloons. We offer a discount to students who train in their
own balloon once the balloon has been inspected for airworthiness
by our FAA-Approved Balloon Repair Station (Air Agency ).
We often have used balloons in stock at excellent prices for the
student who wishes to buy a balloon.
Our instructors have trained hundreds of students and have
many years of experience. They are also repairmen in our Repair
Station and as part of flight instruction teach students balloon
preservation and preventive maintenance for longer balloon life.
Our Balloon Ground School Home
Study Manual was written in
response to the need for one book to provide all the information
necessary to prepare for the FAA Knowledge Tests for the Balloon
Private and Commercial Certificate, the pre solo written test,
and the Practical Test. How To
Fly A Balloon incorporates many of the ideas taught in the
was the basis for the FAA's official Balloon Flying Handbook.
At enrollment, each student receives the following:
All hours beyond the course minimums will be billed at $350. Rates are based on students having passing grades on appropriate FAA Knowledge Tests, and/or an FAA powered-aircraft certificate which eliminates the need to take the FAA written tests. Discounts are available if student buys a balloon from us. Students with properly documented balloon flight training may be offered a reduction in fees after a flight test to determine if any portions of the Balloon Excelsior curriculum have been met.
A $1000 non-refundable deposit is required to schedule training; a
balance must be maintained. Prices are subject to change without
To allow us to complete your training course and issue your
certificate as soon as you have finished your flight training,
you should, if possible, complete the required FAA Knowledge Test
before you begin flying.
Two national computer testing companies offer the FAA knowledge tests:
SYLVAN PROMETRIC 1-800-369-3278
You can call the companies to find the location nearest you.
All companies require advance payment, and prefer credit card. Payment may be made by money order mailed in advance.
When you call the testing company to make an appointment, be prepared to provide the following information: Name, mailing address. Birthdate. Birthplace. Height, Weight, Hair, and Eye color. Social Security Number. Credit Card Info: Name, number, expiration date.
You must have a Written Test Recommendation, which we will
provide. Please remember to ask for it.
You must show 2 forms of identification, one with a photo (passport, drivers license); both must have your signature.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION/BALLOON FLIGHT TRAINING
Airport Pickup. Students
can be met at Oakland, San Francisco, or Sacramento Airport for
Lodging. Many motels and
hotels are nearby. Often, there is a room and auto available for use. Please
ask about availability.
Clothing. Please wear long trousers and long-sleeved shirts of natural fabric (cotton, linen, silk, leather), sturdy shoes or boots, and leather gloves.
FAA Test Preparation. If
the student is unable to take
the FAA Knowledge Test before beginning flight training, we ask
that it be completed by lesson 4. Study materials are sent as
soon as we receive a deposit. We will spend several hours helping
the student prepare for the test at no charge. If significant
time is required, the charge is $50/hour.
Study Materials. Students are provided How To Fly A Balloon and the Balloon Ground School Home Study Manual as part of the course fee. If a student has already bought the books, we will refund the cost of the books.
Hourly Rates. The course
fee includes 10 hours for the
Private course and 20 or 35 hours for the Commercial course. Additional
hours required to complete the course will be billed at $350 in
our balloon or $230 in the student's balloon.
Payment Terms. The course fee is based on
We require a $1000 non-refundable deposit to reserve dates with the
be paid when training begins. Payment is to be made in US dollars.
Back to top of page