Our primary pilot is Geoff Turner flying since 1989. He was trained by world renowned pilots in the North East and in Albuquerque NM in an FAA certified FAR part 141 flight school. With decades of practical experience, he is fully qualified. He attends a minimum of 5 but frequently 8 – 12 classroom hours of recurrent safety training annually. Biennially he undergoes a proficiency review where familiarity with the Federal Air Regulations, emergency procedures, including simulated emergencies, and practical flight proficiency is assessed. He carries a commercial balloon pilot certification issued by the (FAA) Federal Aviation Administration. Despite his proficiency, and because of his decades of experience, he occasionally opts for staying on the ground, when marginal flight parameters exist, always intending to err on the side of safety.
Current weather information, availability and accuracy, are light years ahead of where they were in 1989 when Sky Sail Balloons started. Both the pilot and the crew are familiar with what weather circumstances present a threat to ballooning. Geoff reviews all pertinent weather parameters prior to the flight and the ground crew monitor developments during the flight. Geoff is an amateur meteorologist and has been the weather officer for many balloon festivals. Other balloon pilots look to Geoff to assist in making sound decision as to whether or not to fly, although rapidly developing weather events or unanticipated weather threats can still develop during the course of the flight. Our Pilot is a firm believer in then saying. It is better to be on the ground wishing to be in the air, than on in the air wishing to be on the ground.
Sky Sail Balloons Inc equipment is manufactured according to standards for safety that are approved by the FAA. Our aircraft are at least annually inspected, in accordance with guidelines set forth by the manufacture and approved by the FAA. All work is either conducted by or overseen by a FAA Certified repair station. We comply with the same procedures that apply with all federally registered standard aircraft. Our aircraft thusly carry a valid standard current airworthiness certificate.
Sky Sail only uses inspection and repair stations that have been trained by the manufacturer specifically for our make and model aircraft. Geoff Turner personally oversees all inspection processes, and or repairs, or part replacements. This is not required by the FAA but insures that all recommended processes are completed consistent with the manufactures recommendation.
Because balloons rarely take off and land at established airports. They do not use established approach and departure corridors, that have power lines and antennas clearly marked; Because if this, and because balloons can not be steered left or right to avoid such obstacles, extra care must be taken to see and avoid them. It is particularly hard it visualize obscure obstacles just after sunrise and just before sunset when balloons fly to avoid higher daytime winds and thermals. Particularly when viewing against and dark background from the air. The job of spotting for wires is an easy one to involve all hands, or should we say all eyes. The pilot calls to the crew of verify wire placement when it is not apparent from the air.
The bottom line is that Sky Sail Balloons has never had a flight that has resulted in serious injury, or necessitated a serious equipment repair. Even if you flew every flight with us, you would have a greater likely likelihood of being injured in your car, or in your home, then flying with us.
In the final analysis when you are riding in balloon, you have over 6,000 square feet of sail area, on a vehicle with controls that can only make it go up or down, and only do that controllably with favorable weather conditions. Ballooning is an adventure sport with a not insignificant risk. Like so much in life, the greatest reward comes from activities the involve a little risk.