Here at Virgin Balloon Flights we have a brand new pilot who has Bradley Smith Virgin Balloon Flights new pilot. seen some amazing sights and flown in some spectacular venues, there is one thing for sure… you won’t have to worry about lions after landing here, we just serve up Champagne! Born in Australia in 1965, Brad grew up in Melbourne where he became a tour guide in the travel and tourism industry. He soon became hungry to travel himself and embarked on a two year backpacking trip where he ended up in the UK looking for part-time work. This was his first encounter with hot air ballooning when he became a part-time crew member working his way up to chief crew and eventually taking his commercial pilot’s licence. Ten years on and Brad has piloted balloons in France, Italy, Austria, Turkey, Egypt, Kenya, Portugal, New Zealand, UK and of course in his homeland Australia! He has knotched up around 850 flying hours and is as passionate about ballooning now as he was on his very first flight.
His most memorable flight to date was in Kenya, flying over the Masai Mara. “We had a fantastic flight and the passengers were excited to have seen the animals below the basket. When I landed the balloon, the passengers climbed aboard the 4x4 and Lions started to circle the empty balloon,” said Brad.
“It’s common for the animals to be close, but it was an exciting experience to really have them that close pawing the deflated balloon envelope!
“I just love ballooning. There is nothing else like it and my office window is now the fantastic British countryside from around 3000 feet in the air. What could be better?”. Out of Africa to England, Brad’s home is now Shropshire and his career with Virgin balloon Flights started in April 2010. He will be flying passengers from launch sites in Telford, Shrewsbury, Nantwich, Whitchurch and Stafford's Amerton Farm. A pack of lions aurround the deflated hot air balloonBrad flying over the Masai Mara in KenyaThe lions again approaching the balloon envelope