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Pilot SurveyThe Balloon Federation of America would like to thank all the pilots that took the time to complete the “Pilot Survey.” The goal of this survey was to provide us with a better understanding of LTA activity around the country. This data is planned to be used as a basis of conversation with regulatory agencies to show that hot air ballooning is still the safest form of aviation in the United States. Based on the last ten years of activity with three serious and very visible accidents, the BFA wants to ensure that we can represent the ballooning community in the best way possible. We hope understanding the full scope of balloon flight activity will help us provide that important message. Here are the results of the survey based on the 839 pilot responses we received. 

1. How long have you been an LTA pilot? 

  • 0-5 Years: 16%
  • 6-15 Years: 23%
  • 16-30 Years:  28%
  • 31+ years:  33%

2. What rating do you hold? 

  • Commercial: 567 pilots responded (68%)
  • Commercial and Gas: 53 pilots responded (6%)
  • Private: 217 pilots responded (26%)
  • Private and Gas: 2 pilots responded (<1%)

3. What type of Flying do you participate in most?

  • Recreational: 59%
  • Corporate: 6%
  • Ride Operator: 22%
  • Training: 4%
  • Competitve: 9%

4. How many passengers do you fly in a year?  

  • 263,226 passengers are flown on average in a year.

5. On average how many flights per year do you fly?

  • 37,119 flights are flown on average each year. 
  • Averages 44 flights per responding pilot

6. On average how many hours per year do you fly?

  • 43,804.5 hours are flown on average per year. 
  • Averages 52 hours per responding pilot

7. On average how many landings per year do you make?

  • 58,122 landings are made on average each year. 
  • Averages 69 landings per responding pilot

8. Please rank with 5 being the most important, what you see as the biggest challenge for the balloon industry moving forward:

  • FAA Regulations
  • Landowners
  • Cost
  • Drones
  • Medicals 

The last two questions gave pilots the opportunity to share their thoughts on other issues that were not in the ranking list and to add any other comments or feedback. These responses were varied and greatly appreciated. While too lengthy to be shared here, the BFA Board will take each under advisement for possible action.

The attached chart takes the data and puts it into a visual format. We want to clarify the “Industry Challenges” portion of the chart. Pilots were asked to rank a variety of issues from 5 to 1, with 5 being of highest concern, and 1 the lowest concern. Each number was given a color. Number 5 is light blue. If you look at the FAA regulations, you see that number 5 was chosen 381 times. Thus 381 pilots feel that FAA regulations are the most important issue the LTA industry is facing. 

We hope you find this information helpful. Please feel free to reach out to your regional BFA director if you have questions. If you are not a member, please consider joining the BFA. We are stronger together.


The BFA Board of Directors 

Pilot Survey