Become a pilot

Getting your balloon pilot's permit is a great achievement and the start of a lifetime of adventure.

CASA manages recreational and commercial ballooning in Australia.

The ABF is the national organisation that will connect you to instructors, examiners and training manuals, events and competitions.


First steps

First, you will want to join the ABF as an ordinary member.  The membership options are scheduled to be updated in 2025 but for now, this is your starting point.

Membership will give you access to the members-only sections of the ABF website.  This will include pilot circulars and training manuals and other important information for pilots and crews.

The ABF website has an archive of Aeronotes, the magazine of the Australian Ballooning Federation, and electronic versions are published a few times per year.

You will also gain access to the members-only Facebook group where members share details about upcoming events, second-hand equipment and other social events.


CASA Student Pilot (Balloon) Permit

In 2023, the ABF handed certification and regulation of recreational ballooning back to CASA.

CASA have set up a section of their website related to recreational ballooning that can be found here:

Step one is to become a student pilot and apply for your Student Pilot (Balloon) Permit (SP(B)P) through CASA

To get a Student Pilot (Balloon) Permit (SP(B)P), you must:

You first apply for your Aviation Reference Number (ARN) here:

Then look for the links for "Applying for a student pilot (balloon) permit" on the CASA webpage


Find your instructor

Once logged into the ABF website, you can view the members directory under the Resources tab.

You can identify and contact instructors near to your area to work out who is available to assist with your training.

Unlike many other forms of aviation, ballooning does not have fixed airfields and fleets of aircraft for rental and training schools.

Training is typically performed by volunteers who have the skills and knowledge to pass on and will either loan or rent their own balloons for training in.

The Balloon Association of Victoria has a very active club and a training balloon available to rent.  The ABF will host training events from time to time.

Your time as a student

During your time as a student you will log all of your training time and exams in the Student Training Log that can be downloaded and printed from the CASA website.

To progress to a Private Pilot (Balloons) Permit you will need to have accomplished the following;

– attained the age of 16 years; and

– completed the theory examinations in Flight Rules and Procedures, Meteorology, Aerostatics and Airmanship, and Navigation (the syllabuses of which are specified at Section 7 – Syllabuses of this manual.); and

– passed all examinations within 2 years and one month prior to successfully completing a PP(B)P flight test; and

– completed the Sport Aviation human factors course available through AviationWorx.

– completed the Flight Training Exercises to a competent standard as listed in Section–7 - Syllabuses of this manual; and

• complete a minimum of 16 hours instructional flight time under either the direct supervision (dual flight) or observation (solo flight) of an appropriate instructor before submitting to a flight test with an examiner.

The 16 hours must consist of at least 8 flights including inflation and deflation by the student and will comprise the following:

– a minimum of 9 hours instructional flight time (instructional or solo flight time excludes any time during which the balloon is at rest on the ground); and

– a tether flight of between 15 minutes (minimum) and one hour (maximum); and

– a minimum of 2 hours solo flight consisting of 3 flights, 2 of which must occur on separate days; and

• in the 12 months immediately prior to making the application, have completed at least 3 flights including inflation and deflation; and

• have successfully completed a dual flight test of at least 30 minutes duration with an examiner, and a solo flight test of at least 20 minutes duration under the observation of an examiner. The order in which these flights are conducted is at the discretion of the examiner; and

• forward to CASA: – completed application form, available from the CASA website (form BF-002) ensuring the flight test report is completed and signed by an examiner certifying that all the requirements for the issue of the permit have been met; and

– payment for any fee determined by CASA.