In the run up to Father’s Day we thought it would be rather fitting to give you an insight into some of our dad pilots. You may have seen our previous posts on Yorkshire pilot Dave Sutcliffe aka ‘Sutty’ and chief pilot Ken Karlstrom.
Today we’re giving you an insight into Lancashire pilot Chris Aindow who tells us about his little crew members – children Rosie, 11, and Victor, 7, why he loves flying, and spooky experiences with landowners!
When I Started Flying High
Chris first became interested in ballooning, while working France back in the late 80s, early 90s.
“I was working as an engineer on sailing yachts in France. The cook on board knew some balloonists so we went on a flight and I thought ‘yeah I could do this’.
Soon after, he bought a V-77 balloon, got his private pilot licence and began flying around France and Holland, before taking it up commercially a year later.
“I started working for Virgin just two years ago, it’s great to be part of a trusted brand and brilliant team.”
Cool, Calm and Collected
Chris says the passengers are a big part of what makes the job enjoyable.
“I love making people smile – that and flying in general is the best part of the job. To be a hot air balloon pilot you need to be a people person as you meet someone new every day.
“It’s important to remain cool, calm and collected at all times when flying as well.”
Chris’s weirdest moment as a pilot was about 15 years ago, when he had a rather spooky experience with what he thought was a landowner.
“I had a conversation with a landowner when I was requesting permission to land. I later found out the gentleman I was speaking to was actually a ghost!”
We tried to ask Chris for more details on this but he seemed too spooked to talk about it further.
Follow in Daddy’s Footsteps:
Chris has three children Rosie, 11 and Victor, 7 – who both get involved with ballooning, and little Florence who is 5, but sadly can’t fly due to health issues.
“Rosie and Victor each take it in turns to come fly and help set up and pack away the balloon when on school holidays.
“They both love it and it’s possible they might follow in my footsteps but I encourage them to have other strings to their bow as well.”
Rosie and Victor are full of enthusiasm when it comes to their Dad’s cool job.
“It’s an amazing experience. I love helping set up the balloon and chatting to passengers about all my ballooning adventures. My favourite part is the drag landings. I want to get my pilot’s licence and do it part-time but I’d like to be a vet as well,” says Rosie.
“The whole thing is wicked from start to finish. Like Rosie I want to be a balloon pilot part-time, but also want to be a Formula 1 driver,” says Victor.
Our Balloon Pilot Dad is a Hero
Rosie, Victor and Florence all think there dad is a hero, not only because of his cool job – but because he helps them with everything in life.
“Our dad is a hero because he helps us with everything, from spelling (although we’re better than him), to climbing trees and dressing our cuts and grazes.
“He is really good with passengers and always has a smile on his proud face.” (Rosie and Victor)
Proud Dad Moments
Like all parents Chris is always proud of his children, but it’s the little things that really stand out for him.
“Just simple things like watching them get faster on their bikes and passing tests makes me a really proud dad.”
We asked Chris what he thinks it takes to be a good dad…
“Lots of patience, time to teach them and love to help them grow.”
The Aindow Family Adventures
When their dad isn’t working, Rosie and Victor say life for the Aindow family is like one big adventure.
“Our family adventures include skiing holidays, wild swimming in the Lake District and loads of off-road cycling and dog walking.
Chris will probably be flying on Father’s Day (weather permitting), but if he is home the family plan to do a 14km bike ride, which they all love.
Would your dad enjoy a sky-high adventure? Book his balloon ride here or give us a call on 01952 212750 for more information.