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Q: Is there a code of ethics for Hot Air Balloon Operators?

A: No and Yes.  Sound confusing?  In the United States, there exists no requirement nor authoritative body to govern or regulate any code of ethics, however the United States does enforce all pilots to be licensed.  While this is good, we have subscribed to a code of ethics as outlined in the British Balloon Club.  As a United States Company, we cannot enroll membership into a UK group, however we voluntarily uphold these BBC Guidelines.  Additionally, Gentle Breeze Hot Air Balloon Company enrolled as a charter member into the new US-based (and voluntary) Balloon Ride Operators Division of the Balloon Federation of America.

Q: Why is there no FAA logo on your website?

A:  Because it is illegal for any non-governmental agency to imply any kind of endorsement!  See the FAA website and see for yourself.  

However, all our pilots, instructors, examiners and repair personnel ARE FAA licensed.  We currently hold over 20 licenses and ratings within the USA, as well as foreign countries.

Q:  I'm thinking of buying from a national vendor, is that good?

A:  Yes and no.  Yeah, we know that answer confuses most.  Generally the advantages with nation-wide certificate re-sellers allows you to use your certificate anywhere, nationwide* (*as long at that nationwide re-seller has a vendor in your geographical desired location).  Be sure to check them out.  Will your re-seller let you know where their ride-operator is?  Do they require your credit card details before they tell you where the ride will be?  If you feel they are hiding information until you pay, they probably are. While Gentle Breeze remains a Southern-Ohio based ride-operator, we partner with Soaring Adventures of America for nationwide certificates.  Yes, Soaring Adventures of America does let customers know in advance where their operators exist. We are a ride-operator that can also provide you a nationwide-based certificate.

On the other hand, when you plan to take a ride locally, then we recommend to buy locally.  Of course we'd like you to purchase from us, just keeping your dollar local, helps the local economy and well as saving you money from the middleman associated with nationwide re-sellers.  Also, most nationwide re-sellers do not own the actual aircraft.

Q:  All Balloon Company's are appropriately insured, right?

A:  Shockingly, NO!  Believe it or not, a lot of balloon operators operate as a small side business, augmented by the owner's full-time job somewhere else.  While this in itself is just fine, it does tend to allow operators just to piggy-back on their personal insurance policies.  The three main areas:

  • Automobile:  While the State of Ohio (like many others), do require each vehicle to be insured, it's the type of insurance that is a question.  Ever notice how the pilot gets to meet the customer?  Most likely the pilot's personal vehicle and carrying personal insurance coverage.  Covered, yes, but in the event of an accident, check out an insurance companies' response to personal vehicle used for business purposes!
  • Aircraft:  Many states do NOT require insurance on aircraft.  It is a good thing to have and most people do.  But the detail lies within the type of coverage again.  Many part-time operations carry a limited-commercial endorsement.  Limited commercial allows the owner to buy "some coverage" for commercial operations and save lots of money on premiums.  Sounds great...until it's needed!  
  • General Liability:  Not many think of this one.  Are you going to meet your pilot and flight crew at their office?  or just out on a launch field?  The difference is with a real brick-and-mortar office comes the aspect of having commercial liability.  Lots of balloon operators that just meet you at the launch site do so because they operate out of their home... and most homeowners don't carry general liability at the residence, other than standard homeowner's policy provisions.
Gentle Breeze Hot Air Balloon Company doesn't carry these types of personal-based coverage, opting for the full commercial coverage (at a much higher premium).  And YES, we do have a real physical office, not just a web presence!

Q:  Why are your balloon rides so expensive?

A:  Pretty much noted above as all factors add cost.  The cost of operation of ANY aircraft increases yearly with general operating expenses.  We all watch gas prices, but in the grand scheme of flight operations, it's actually a very small factor. Things like appropriate insurance, new and updated state-of-the-art equipment, professional pilots, experienced grounds crewmen all factor into the price of a flight, which reflects in the cost of a balloon ride.  There are cheaper options out there, we know that.  

Q:  Experienced pilots are all experienced, what's the big deal?

A:  Some operators state they have been flying for over 20 years, or more.  That sounds like a ton of experience.  Yes it would be!  The only part omitted could be a ten year hiatus between the first flight and today.  Yep, we've heard this one!  Our operations stem way back to 1978, under a different name and original pilot.  We CAN state that our senior pilot has been flying since 1981.  Additionally, pilots are required to maintain something call currency, meaning a pilot completes at least 3 flights within 3 months and if they fall outside the minimum requirements, that pilot must complete a flight review before commencing with flight operations.  Our senior pilot not only has been flying since 1981, but has also been flying consecutively ever since, ALWAYS completing the minimum flight requirements at all times since 1981, without a gap in service, and has completed flight reviews as well as administered flight reviews to our competition.

We believe you DO get what you pay for with Gentle Breeze Hot Air Balloon Company, Ltd.  Thank you for your consideration!  Research, research!  

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