East Gippsland News Weekend

18 East Gippsland News Weekend | July 2024 NATHAN CORLASS: Good morning, thanks for having me Damien. DAMIEN DONOHUE: Lovely day for flying today Nathan, anything planned? NC: No, I'm working one of my three jobs today, aviation is very expensive. DD: So you were born locally? NC: Grew up in Bairnsdale, have been travelling around for work since I was 18, last year decided to move back, build a house, settle down and do the balloon thing. DD: When did you first get into hot air balloons? NC: Did six months ground crewing in Alice Springs in 2018, before moving back in 2021, where I did two and half years committed to training and put some money together and bought a balloon from New Zealand. DD: Are balloons expensive? NC: Anything in aviation is ridiculously expensive. That's why I have three jobs. DD: Did you fly in the Alice or just ground crew? NC: I ground crewed while working towards getting my private license. DD: Is it hard to get a private licence? NC: Not all that difficult. Obviously there's a lot less controls, there's a lot less speed than most other form of aircraft. The way my instructors describe it is if I can teach you to drive a car, I can teach you to fly a balloon. The actual mechanics of it's not that difficult, it's more around decision making and the process of getting into the air. That's the part that takes the longest, the weather checks and being able to read what's going on. DD: Do you have to complete a certain amount of hours of flying to get your licence? NC: Yes, the minimum is 16 hours in training, of which three are solo supervised with the instructor on the ground. You have to do five exams, then a flight test with an examiner. Then you are away. DD: It's always fascinated me how a balloon actually works? NC: Magic and good friction. Obviously, you've got a difference in the temperature of the air, which makes the air inside the balloon lighter. It's something that took me a long time to get my head around, but air actually weighs something. So in my balloon, once it's in flight and floating away, the air in the balloon weighs around four tonne. So with that sort of mass it can take a bit of work to get it to go up and down. DD: It's even more complex than I imagined. NC: As far as the actual navigation and practical side of the flying, you're using the different wind layers of different heights to direct you where you want to go. For example, last weekend the wind on the ground was blowing from north-west at about 290 degrees, but as I climbed up it swung around about 80 degrees, so I was able to do a left hand turn, taking off in Bairnsdale and landing in Bruthen. DD: So you can't actually plan to fly like somewhere ridiculous like Melbourne? NC: If the wind's not going that way, you're not going to go that way. You can only steer the way the wind will allow you. So some days it works out and others it doesn't, it pays to be flexible. DD: It would be almost impossible to take off and land in the same spot? NC: It's very rare, but you can get wind conditions that will allow for that. It's called a box slot, you drag it along the ground in one direction, you shoot straight up, the wind pushes you directly backwards and you come back down. DD: Are you flying as a business yet? NC: No, not yet, I am purely just privately licensed, which is probably the hardest part. There's quite a bit of interest in people wanting to go up, but I'm flying privately at present as I build hours and get a lay on the land and finish my commercial licence. Even after that is completed there is still another 12 months of paperwork, rules and regulations to be applied to before we can fly Joe Public. DD: That's the end game? NC: Absolutely, it's far too expensive to just do for a bit of fun. DD: How often do you fly at the moment? TO&FRO Damo with This week it’s a pleasure to have Nathan Corlass, from Foxtrot Tango Foxtrot, the East Gippsland Balloon, which we are seeing gracing our skies regularly.