There are some people who like to watch the balloons at BalloonFest from a lawn chair, or streched out on a blanket, gazing up at the sky. Is that you? Or do you watch and say "Awwwww......I wish I could do that!"
Well, you can! We're currently looking for some really great people to serve as chase crew at our balloon festival October 18-20. What do chase crews do? They are there when the balloons go up, both morning and early evening. They help put the balloon up, watch it fly away, then quickly load their chase vehicle to follow the balloon. Their goal is to be there when it lands. When it does, they help take the balloon down and then return to the field.
While almost anyone can crew, we do have a few preferences.
• You must be able to listen and follow directions. Our pilots and our crew chiefs are responsible for the safety of the balloon, the passengers, the crew, the chase vehicle, and the spectators. There is a lot of activity at a festival and you must be able to listen to them and do what they say. They are in charge.
• We'd prefer people who can commit to crew for the whole weekend. That gives your pilot some consistency and allows you to find out how they like things done. You'll be exhausted at the end, but we think you will feel it was time well spent! If you can't commit for the weekend, let us know when you can be there. Sometimes we need people for certain flights and not others.
• You must be responsible....if you say you're going to be there, you need to be there. Don't leave the pilots scrambling at the last minute to find help.
• You must be in at least average health, able to bend a bit and help lift heavy items.
• Navigational skills help. The equipment in the chase vehicles vary. Some have laptops and GPS. Some have paper maps. Some go with the eyeball method.....they want you to keep them in your line of sight. When they land, you need to figure out how to get to them. If you are local and know the area well, let the crew coordinator know that up front so he can match you with a pilot who may not know the area quite as well.
• While there are no major age restrictions (we have awesome crew in their 80s!), we prefer you not to bring young children. Your first responsibility needs to be to a safe inflation and landing of the balloon, and if children need a lot of supervision it just may not be the best place for them (or for you since you should be focused on them.) You will see many parents with their older children crewing together, however. It can be a fun family activity. Use good judgment and talk to our crew coordinator before you bring children along.
• There will be some need for some people to drive chase vehicles. Are you comfortable driving other people's vehicles? Are you licensed and safe? Have you driven large vehicles and pulled trailers? Let our crew coordinator know! Some pilots come alone and need a responsible driver to drive their chase vehicle. (If you don't want to drive, it's fine. There are plenty of spots where it is not necessary.)
You can sign up for chase crew at the "Volunteer" page on our website; scroll to locate 'Balloon Crew'. You can complete you application and see a video of pilot Tom Rousch and his volunteer crew packing up a balloon. Our crew coordinator Daniel will match you up with a pilot and will put you in contact with them.
If you are fascinated by balloons and want to be a part of the action, we encourage you to join us as chase crew for BalloonFest weekend. It's a great time to meet people in our local ballooning community and provide hospitality to those pilots who come to our area for the festival. And you get to be part of the organized chaos that results in over 50 balloons floating over Statesville.
On The Breeze ~
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