Ian Martin is a first-time pilot at Balloon Fiesta. Check out this month’s Inside the Basket, for a look into his ballooning experience and what he’s looking forward to at this year’s event
1. Give a brief overview of your ballooning background.
I have a varied and wide ballooning background, moving from crewing to becoming a pilot, moving to commercial crewing, getting involved for several years in Richard Branson’s Global Challenge, to getting my commercial license. I have, over the years, flown lots of special shapes and become deeply involved in the organization of the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta where I have been the Director and choreographer of the night glows for 10 years now. I have spent 12 years flying commercially in Myanmar and now fly the largest passenger ride balloons in the UK and run Flying Enterprises a successful commercial aerial display company.
2. How long have you been a balloon pilot?
I got my private pilot’s license back in 1990 after enjoying my first balloon flight in 1987, so I have been in ballooning for 31 years, where did those years go!!
3. What is your favorite thing about being a balloon pilot?
Where do I start? There are so many great things. I love to entertain and there is nothing better than sharing the excitement of those enjoying their first balloon flight or entertaining the crowds who flock in large numbers to fiestas and other events to watch the balloons fly. This really brings out the showmen in pilots. Though I equally love the challenge of flying in new areas and the amazing feeling when flying above the clouds and experiencing the breathtaking views.
4. With this being your first year to fly at Balloon Fiesta, what are you most looking forward to?
I think I am looking forward to finding out what I should be looking forward to. The large numbers of balloons in the sky which we have seen in photographs but have always wanted to see it all live. The hospitality that I have heard about but want to enjoy. I look forward to exploring Albuquerque and New Mexico and meeting the large number of people who attend the event. I am also flying Busby a very British balloon and I hope he is well received.
5. What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about becoming a pilot?
I always encourage new pilots to take up the sport, especially young pilots, we need to keep generating interest within the younger generations. So, get involved, never be afraid to learn all aspects of ballooning, retrieving, flying and the consequences of flying as well. Never get too confident. It’s always better to be a little nervous before a flight than being over confident and never be afraid to stay on the ground if the conditions don’t seem right. Most of all go ballooning with your friends, enjoy the social side of the sport / business.