How Old to Fly a Hot Air Balloon?

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a legit balloon boy! I’m Amy E. Feldman.

A Georgia boy became the youngest person to pilot a hot air balloon. He’s nine, an age when the Wizard of Oz has no doubt convinced him that’s perfectly normal. And since his dad owns a hot air balloon company, maybe it seemed like the average take your kid to work day.

The difference is that the FAA has regulations on who can pilot virtually all flying machines, from gliders to hot air balloons to airplanes. While you don’t even need the airplane equivalent of a driver’s permit to take flying lessons, once you’re the one piloting the craft by yourself, you have to be 14 to get a student license to pilot a glider or balloon, or 16 for a plane. (One hopes the 9 year old’s dad was there with him when he took the wheel. Or lever?) You have to be 17 to get a pilot’s license for a private plane or 18 to get a full pilot’s license to fly a commercial aircraft.

The good news for anyone worried about having a 9 year old flying is that at least you know he wasn’t at the airport lounge drinking beforehand, although he’s probably still afraid of flying monkeys.

From The Judge Group, I’m Amy E. Feldman for KYW News Radio.

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