Steve Richards began his flying career in 1984 as a fixed-wing pilot before being introduced by a friend to a local company that needed someone to operate their newly purchased sponsored hot air balloon. It was then that Steve's love for ballooning began.

Taking the balloon to events across the length and breadth of the UK, competing in Grand Prix and National Championships as well as overseas national competitions, Steve gained techniques in the demanding competitive atmosphere that he still uses today in his commercial piloting career.

From then on in Steve was hooked and has since flown balloons in Holland, France, Germany, Italy and South America.

"After nearly 30 years of flying, there are so many memories of fantastic flights. Flying over the Alps, landing at the very peak of one highest mountains in the area and getting out one by one to leave footprints in the snow, the fun of landing between the gigantic vineyards in South America, the extremes of flying special shape balloons, flying across the Channel and the heart-stopping moment as you cross the edge of the cliffs below with nearly 20 miles of sea ahead of you....." re-called Steve.

When Steve's not flying one of our big red balloons he enjoys travelling, music and watching sport, particularly sailing, tennis, golf and rugby. He's a big fan of his 'job' and favours the views of beautiful Britain from 3000ft above land. Steve loves meeting new people every day and making keen new balloonists' dreams come true.

Join him in the sky over the Surrey and Hampshire countryside on a hot air balloon ride with Virgin Balloon Flights.