Elite Balloon Instructor Fueled by NAFI (www.theballoontrainingacademy.com/ebi/)


The Balloon Training Academy (www.theballoontrainingacademy.com) and the National Association of Flight Instructors (www.nafinet.org) have identified a need for recognizing Balloon Lighter than Air (LTA) instructors who are active, professional(1), and have a history of a positive and safe customer experience.


(1)    NAFI Definition of Professional Instructor: A professional flight instructor is a positive aviation role model and mentor; demonstrates an expert understanding of flight instruction; communicates through proven instructional methods; and conducts business in the highest of moral standards and safety.

Elite Balloon Instructor Official Mission: To differentiate between a commercial balloon pilot who is analogous to a CFI, and one who demonstrates the highest level of instructional activity, educational experience, and professional service while acting as an instructor.

The Problem: In the LTA community, any commercially rated pilot is recognized as having the ability to act as a flight instructor in the category. This bypasses the need for a certificated flight instructor (CFI) certification that other aviation categories require (single engine land, rotorcraft, etc.) Due to this structure, it can be difficult to measure the skills and competencies to those claiming to perform training operations.

The Solution: The Elite Balloon Instructor (EBI) designation, is a program to be administered by the Balloon Training Academy and supported by NAFI. The EBI is designed to measure the activity, success, reputation, and safety of a balloon instructor through documentation of the individuals services provided within a previous 24 calendar month window. Similar to NAFI’s Master CFI accreditation (though not recognized by the FAA), the EBI will measure activity through continuing education units (CEUs) with a needed achievement total of 10 CEUs spread across four required categories: Note: Approximately 5 hours = 1 CEU

  • Instructor (4)
  • Educator (2)
  • Service to the Aviation Community (2)
  • Professional Development (2)

Since Balloon instruction does not require a CFI, the EBI recognition has a strong emphasis on customer experience and instructor reputation. Each submission will require a full aviation CV as well letters of recommendation from the following sources:

  • Previous Student
  • Active Ballooning Peer
  • FPM/DPE/FSDO representative

To qualify as an EBI, or obtain recognition as an EBI, will also require that no enforcement action by any government authority has been taken in the preceding five years, and full adherence to the NAFI Code of Ethics (www.nafinet.org/nafi-code-of-ethics).

Each application will receive a comprehensive review from representatives and trusted LTA instructors provided by The Balloon Training Academy, while under the supervision of experienced NAFI MCFI program managers and instructors.

Those earning an EBI designation, will be permitted to represent themselves as having the EBI designation, and will be provided an achievement package from the Balloon Training Academy. Recognition of those receiving the designation will be recognized through media outreach of NAFI.

Personal Requirements:

Elite Balloon Instructors (EBI) must be actively working under FAR Part 61 or 141 and must hold a current a FAA Commercial airman certificate with hot air balloon limitation (minimum 48 calendar months) AND must not have had an airman certificate suspended, revoked, subject to enforcement action during the preceding five years; or, have been convicted of a civil or criminal offense. An EBI must also abide by the NAFI Code of Conduct.

Elite Balloon Instructor Forms:

Application Form (PDF)

Activity Completion Form (PDF)

Cost and How to Apply:

Application Cost: $20, please make a check out to The Balloon Training Academy

Required Package Components: Submitted applications become the property of the Committee. The application package must include the required items listed below and only those items. Missing or illegible items may lead to disqualification. Please, no cover sheets or excess bulk.

  1. Application
  2. Aviation oriented curriculum vitae (CV), no more than two pages.
  3. Clear copies of a current U.S. government-issued photo-id AND both sides of current FAA certificates/designations AND a photo taken within the past five years, in a professional aviation setting.
  4. One letter of recommendation from a FPM, FSDO employee, or DPE, etc.
  5. One letter of recommendation from a ballooning peer
  6. One letter of recommendation from a student (or former student) who is familiar with your work (No more than one page each)
  7. Supporting documents for each CEU listed on the application and complete an Activity Completion Form for each activity.

Submission Directions: Physical Applications (Paper or CD/USB Drive) can be mailed to either:

The Balloon Training Academy

2765 Jeremy Ct. NW
Swisher, IA 52338
The National Association of Flight Instructors
3100 East Milham Ave.
Portage, MI 49002

Digital Submissions can be uploaded to Googledocs or Dropbox and shared with BTA President Adam Magee ([email protected])

Questions on the requirements or how to apply? Contact us here: [email protected] or [email protected]