NEW MEXICO – Some laid-off pilots may be trading in their wings for hot air balloons. Rainbow Ryders is now looking for applicants for their commercial hot air balloon pilot training program. The program is flexible and lasts nine to 12 months.
Company President and CEO, Scott Appelman says he isn’t full of hot air. “The simple fact is our numbers are up about 30 percent compared to last year,” Appelman said.
Rainbow Ryders provides training, equipment, and the crew necessary to complete the program. According to the company’s website, the pilot-in-training will need to be responsible for propane, gas, and any repairs needed that are not related to normal operation.
Additionally, there will be hands-on training opportunities in the Rainbow Ryders shop. The program will also be supplemented with more opportunities as well as financial incentives that are related to a career in ballooning like being a part of their chase crew.
The ballooning of business requires more employees, preferably laid-off pilots who can be quickly trained. “Having laid off pilots who lost their jobs is great cause having existing aviators, they understand the rules and regs that apply above the ground,” said Appelman. Just last year, the pandemic robbed thousands of airline workers of their jobs.
Appelman said he’s already heard from some of them. “We put this information out 36 hours ago, and I already got a dozen applications from around the country and around the world, and several of those are from laid-off airline workers,” said Appelman. But he said you don’t need cockpit experience to fly a hot air balloon. “25% of our company has started off as crew chiefs,” said Appelman.
Those interested in applying will need to complete ground school and a written private exam, have at least one-year of ballooning experience, and need to pass criminal, driving, and background checks. For more information and a link to apply, visit rainbowryders.com.