KIDS: Feature Story - Balloonist

Feature Story - Balloonist

{Hot Air Balloon with Shamrocks Green and Yellow}

Feature Story
Up, Up and Away!

Come fly with me! Not in the stuffy and cramped passenger section of an airplane, but with the sun reflecting off the mountains and the river flowing underneath you. Feel the fresh air on your cheeks. A Canada goose honks hello to you as he hurries to join the rest of the flock. This isn't a dream. You're in a hot air balloon, floating on the invisible wind currents that determine where and how fast you will go.

{Hot Air Balloon Ground Teams and Spectators}

Frank Bart is your pilot. "When you're first taking off, it's like the earth is falling away from you," says Bart, who is also an FAA licensed commercial pilot. "You're standing still and you don't feel any wind even though you can be going up to 60 miles per hour. It's more like floating on a cloud." After Mr. Bart's first ride in a hot air balloon many years ago, he was so excited he went out and bought one. He usually flies every weekend at rallies around the country and about two times a week with customers, depending on the weather.

{Hot Air Balloon Basket and Team Preparations} Bart has been piloting hot air balloons since 1989, and is the 1998 and 1999 Connecticut State Ballooning Champion. He also is a member of the Balloon Federation of American (BFA), the Connecticut Lighter Than Air Society, and is a mentor for the BFA Junior Balloonists. Membership in the Junior Balloonists is for young people ages 7-17 years old who act as crew for their parents or another adult, who have a special interest in ballooning and want to learn more about it. They {Hot Air Balloon Inflating} receive a newsletter subscription, a BFA pin, member card and crew log book. There are also contests for the members and prizes for good school grades.

At age 16, son Steven Bart has his private balloonist license and can take passengers for a ride. He flew his first solo flight at the age of 14 and when he turns 18 years old he will be allowed to take passengers for hire. In order to get his license, Steven has to be able to read weather maps and sectional air charts as well as understanding flight theory and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

{Hot Air Balloon Lift Off}

Ballooning began in Paris in 1782 as an experiment using a balloon created from paper and silk. Passengers included a rooster, a sheep and a pig. Both Steven Bart and his Dad tell of the friends they have made and the places they have seen because of ballooning. Frank Bart sums it all up in one sentence, "There's just nothing like it because it honestly takes you away."

If you would like more information on the BFA Junior Balloonists or on Ballooning in general, you can email Frank Bart at



Content Last Modified on 5/11/2006 4:01:39 PM