Respected balloon pilot speaks at festival

Jack Way, a hot air balloonist from Cody in the U.S., appeared at a festival in the town recently to talk to revellers about his many encounters as a pilot.

Speaking at the annual Wild West Balloon Festival, which took place earlier this month, Way explained how he has been involved with aviation since the age of 14, and developed an interest in hot air balloons back in 1996.

With over 10 years’ experience under his belt, Way says that he is as passionate about flying as he has ever been, and particularly enjoys seeing the reactions from first time flyers to their surroundings. He explained:

“As part of Cody’s centennial celebration, a year-long series of events were planned. This included a balloon rally in Cody in 1996.”

His first balloon was purchased in 1999 after several trips left him hooked to the sport. He continued:

“Your first ride is free, but your second ride is $30,000. The bug really bites you.”

Way and his crew manage to fly approximately 30 times a year, and despite being the pilot, he is still reliant on others to help him with the flight process, maintaining that it takes five or six people to get the balloon off the ground. This usually includes his wife, who is crew chief.

Describing himself a “safe and conservative” pilot, Way will only fly in suitable situations, with a strong concern for passengers’ safety. Weather must include light winds of no more than 1-2 mph, in dry, clear and cool conditions.

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