CHRIS MONK BALLOONING
Chris Monk has been flying Hot Air Balloons commercially for over 25 years and has flown many different types ranging from tiny one-man, no-basket balloons called Cloudhoppers, up to huge passenger carrying balloons capable of lifting 16 people at a time.
He is also experienced in flying Special Shaped Balloons and has flown in over 20 different countries around the world.
Although maintaining that all balloon flights are memorable, a few that stand out were flying over the Great Wall of China, over the Strip in Las Vegas and across the English Channel from England to France. He was part of the Airship and Balloon Company team that broke the ‘Cloudhopper’ stacking world record.
As an Instructor, he enjoys teaching newcomers the art of ballooning and is always looking forward to the next flight!
2017 - 2020
Winter season passenger flying for Balloons Over Bagan and Balloons Over Inle, Myanmar
2018 & 2019
Passenger flights with Rainbow Ryders at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, USA
Passenger flying in Tuscany, Italy
2009 - 2016
Winter seasons flying passengers in Phoenix and Las Vegas, USA
2006 - 2009
1990 - 2004
Flying for Virgin Airship & Balloon Company, Air 2 Air, and The Redmalt Limited, and co-ordinating aerial work and balloon tours in the UK and abroad, which included many TV interviews and film work
Freelance Commercial Pilot and Crew Chief responsible for all pre and post flight logistics, along with crew training and equipment maintenance of several PT Group A & B balloons and various Special Shape balloons
Major brands flown for include:
National Power, BBC Radio 1, Mercury Communications, Mazda, LDV, Motorola, Lloyds TSB, Soothers, Churchill Insurance, Somerfield, Krug Champagne
Obtained CPL in Wadi Rum, Jordan
Pilot for record-breaking
'Balloon-Helicopter-Aeroplane Parachute Drop'
World Record Balloon Hopper Stack
Piloted 1st UK Tandem Skydive Drop from a Balloon
Participated in Gordon Bennett Long Distance Race:
Chateau D’Oex, Trans Alpine Switzerland to France
Flight over The Great Wall of China
Flight across The English Channel in 1992
and again in 2017
Participated in flight over central London in the
Lord Mayor's Balloon Regatta
After meeting Chris in 2011, and soon after her first flight in a hot air balloon, Claire had the ballooning bug. She was under the instruction of Chris to obtain her PPL in 2014, but he also brought in several of his long-term experienced pilot friends to ensure Claire had a broad range of instruction.
After enjoying a couple of years flying privately, and having been inspired by hopping onboard many of Chris' commercial flights both in the UK and abroad, Claire worked towards and successfully gained her Commercial rating in August 2018. She gained her 'B' rating in 2019.
When Krug, the world’s prestigious champagne house, created the the most luxurious hot air balloon ever commissioned - complete with a white lambskin-lined basket - to host their VIP guests in unprecedented style, their choice of pilot was of utmost importance. They asked Chris not only to fly the balloon but to co-ordinate the operations in some of the world's most exclusive locations.
The balloon itself was constructed by top balloon manufacturer, Camerons. The basket was painstakingly finished by bespoke Parisian upholsterers and included dining tables and individual stainless steel tiffin boxes which housed Michelin star food for consumption during the flight. This was all washed down with the finest Krug champagne, served in style by the on-board sommelier.
EVOLUTION OF THE HOT SEAT
Having been actively involved with the Aerial Work side of ballooning for many years, I was fortunate enough to fly virtually every different hopper design to come out of the various factories. Whilst they all had their good points, they all, in my opinion, had drawbacks when used in a working environment.
I met with one of the larger manufacturers to discuss various improvements in design, and it was suggested that I should go and build my own hopper bottom end and we would meet again when I had something to show them.
The whole bottom end has been designed for safety, comfort, and for being commercially user friendly.
We have completed many flights with the ‘Hot Seat’, all with great success in terms of safety, comfort, and usability. I have given it to many of my commercial pilot friends to try and the feedback has all been positive!
The house build and renovation of many houses in
England, Wales, France and Belgium
Setting up and establishing an award winning gift card shop in Wells, Somerset
Established a successful general store and off licence
LEARN TO FLY!
As a qualified Hot Air Balloon Instructor, I thoroughly enjoy taking students from novice to successfully achieving their Private Pilot's Licence.
We conduct training courses in the UK and in Europe, giving tuition to students over a four week period to cover all aspects of flight training and written examinations to PPL standard.
Click the link here to read an article from the BBAC magazine 'Aerostat' on training a student in Spain.