Lifting off 25-29 February 2016
Crews are a vital part of the Wairarapa Balloon Fetival and are the answer to the often-asked question: “Who are all those people around the balloon?” and “How does the balloon get in the air in the first place? That’s where the ground crew (or chase crew, two names, same job) comes in.
The crews #1 job is to assist the pilot.
Local volunteer crew members will be assigned to a pilot for the duration of the Fiesta. The crew will be part of their ‘team’ and will work with only them at any of the ballooning events.
Responsibilities of the Crew
This includes setting up the balloon, helping to make sure the basket is arranged and stocked with those things the pilot likes to take along, and to help achieve a safe lift off. Once that is done, the crew take the chase vehicle and follow the balloon for an hour or so.
When the pilot has located a nice field for landing, the crew will usually be informed (usually by radio) of the intended landing site. The goal of the crew is to have the vehicle at the landing field before the pilot lands, and still have enough time to be waiting in the selected field to assist in any way with the landing operation. It is fairly straight forward, most of the time! Crew tasks are often explained as 90% common sense, and 10% training. Every task the crew performs has a reason for why it is done a certain way, and once that reason is discovered, it makes perfect sense. The trick to learning is to ask lots of questions.
One thing that makes ballooning difficult for the ground crew is one of the same things that make it exciting: the weather. This is exactly why hot air ballooning is so exciting. Every single flight is different!
Most balloons have a crew of between 3 to 6 people.