Young hot air balloonist on the way up
Hot air balloon enthusiast Chris Freeman has just gained a commercial licence at the age of 23, making him one of the youngest commercial pilots in the country. Chris obtained a private pilot’s licence in 2008 but needed a further 75 hours of flying time across the UK and Europe as well as five intensive written exams before being allowed to take paying customers for hot air balloon rides.
Taking three years to complete, Chris, who presently works in marketing, is hoping that his new commercial licence will help him build up a profitable business and ideally he would like to find a company which is prepared to sponsor him to fly his own balloon. In the meantime, he hopes to find a job with a company specialising in hot air balloon rides, to gain further experience and learn the business.
He currently flies for around 40 hours a year in his own hot air balloon which he shares with a friend. Since gaining his private licence in 2008, Chris has taken his friends and family up as often as he can, saying he finds it as exhilarating as the first time he flew, which he says is as much to do with the silence as with the stunning views.
He attributes his interest in hot air ballooning to family outings to the Northampton Balloon Festival, first held over 20 years ago and organised by a team of local hot air balloon enthusiasts keen to share their interest.