Before you buy a hot air balloon, you need a license, lots of equipment, and a ground crew. Buying a hot air balloon is like buying another car, except it requires a special license and can only be operated under certain conditions. You will need expensive equipment, usually sold separately from the balloon, and a place to store it. In addition, a ground crew is necessary to safely get the balloon off the ground and land it. If socializing is important to you, realize that hot air ballooning is an expensive, potentially time-consuming hobby that typically does not have a lot of followers.
You need a license to legally operate a hot air balloon. Hot air balloon licenses generally come in two forms: private and commercial. Private licenses are meant for people who wish to operate the balloon alone. Commercial licenses give pilots the ability to fly other people, whether those people are paying customers or just a few friends. Private licenses are usually cheaper to purchase and require less hands-on training.
To buy a hot air balloon you need a great deal of money upfront, plus money for fuel and insurance. Hot air balloons are not inexpensive toys; they are vehicles that require maintenance, storage, and comprehensive insurance policies. Like cars, the color of the vehicle is often the last thing on a buyer’s mind when choosing one within budget that meets personal comfort, safety, and functional requirements. In addition, some parts are necessary to inflate a hot air balloon but are usually bought separately.
Hot air balloons cannot be inflated and flown on a whim. Before you buy a hot air balloon, determine how much hassle a chaser crew may be for you. Chaser crews are required to get the balloon in the air and land it safely. Since the direction of a hot air balloon's flight largely depends on the wind, the landing location is never a sure thing. Chaser crews must follow the balloon on land in a vehicle, while keeping contact with the hot air balloon operator via radio.
Before you buy a hot air balloon, look into local hot air balloon social groups if socializing with people who enjoy the same hobby is important. Some countries only have a few hundred to several thousand people who can legally operate a hot air balloon. This can make finding people with similar hobbies and a willingness to hang out difficult. In addition, you might never be able to fly with other hot air balloons.