Australia's first Easy Access Basket (EAB) was launched by Global Ballooning Australia in 2012.
The basket enables passengers with physical mobility impairments to experience the joy of a hot air balloon flight along with their family and friends.
Unlike traditional balloon baskets that require passengers to climb in and out over the edge, the innovative EAB incorporates a door to allow less able-bodied individuals, including those with serious physical disabilities, to enter and exit the basket with ease. The EAB also incorporates customised seating, harness and a grab handle suspended from the burner frame.
It hasn’t always been smooth flying for GBA's Director, Kiff. In January 2010, Kiff was in a near-fatal motorbike accident. He woke up in the Royal Melbourne Hospital and with life-threatening injuries began a yearlong recovery process. As he entered the long road of rehabilitation, having to learn to walk again, he feared that he might never again return to being a commercial balloon pilot.
Whilst in rehab, Kiff met specialist injury lawyers, Peter Burt and Clara Davies, who began acting for him in his TAC claim. Having never previously acted for a balloon pilot, Burt and Davies embarked on research into a day in the life of a hot air balloonist. This involved them experiencing an early morning flight over Melbourne and subsequent discussions about what was involved. During his journey back to health, many discussions were had and a bond was formed. This led to Kiff's epiphany to build Australia’s first Easy Access Basket, allowing those with disabilities to experience a lighter than air balloon flight over Melbourne and to improve quality of life in the process.
Global Ballooning Australia & Burt and Davies jointly funded the design and production of Australia's first commercial disabled passenger balloon. It is an innovative and altruistic joint venture intended to provide happiness to those who would otherwise be denied.
This project required a first of its type balloon basket to be designed and constructed by an Australian balloon manufacturer and certified airworthy by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). Global Ballooning Australia amended its operating procedures after making a successful safety case to CASA and thereby obtaining an exemption against the regulations prohibiting the flight of handicapped persons in commercial hot air balloon operations.
Easy Access Basket flights
- Flights in the Easy Access Basket (EAB) are subject to availability and flown over Melbourne. You can request a flight over the Yarra Valley (depending on passenger numbers we may be able to fly you)
- The basket can hold a maximum of 10 passengers, with the ability to have 2 passengers sitting down (it is a cosy fit if there are 2 passengers sitting)
- Individuals requiring the use of the EAB are required to share the experience with a carer/helper/friend/family member on the morning, along with other passengers flying in the same basket. If you are travelling independently and do not have a carer to assist you, GBA is required to provide an extra fully trained ground crew to assist you during the experience at a fixed cost AUD210.00. The crew is not to provide any extra lifting or duties they are not trained in and are simply there to assist you in your mobility. Consultation on this will be had prior to the booking being confirmed. Full prepayment and a signed EAB form are required upon booking.
- If you are in a wheelchair, you will need to transfer from your wheelchair into the basket which has a seat inside it. Unfortunately, we cannot take the wheelchair onboard
- The EAB has particular operating parameters, and our staff may cancel your flight at late notice because of this. Hot air ballooning relies on suitable weather conditions in order to proceed safely. If this is the case, we will reschedule your flight for a suitable time
- No more than two passengers requiring the use of the EAB will fly on a particular day
- At this stage, Global Ballooning Australia Pty Ltd does not offer Accredited and Certified transport to and from launch and landing sites. You will be required to arrange your own transportation from the meeting place to the launch site and whilst you're on your flight your organised transportation will follow our ground crew. Then once we land, your transportation can drive you back to the meeting point for your champagne breakfast or back to your hotel/house. This will need to be arranged for about 3.5hrs as a minimum. The following, 1300PickUp Chauffeur Service maxi taxi service is suggested and they quote approximately $60+ per hour with a minimum of 3.5hrs. Please advise them you have booked through Global Ballooning Australia for your hot air balloon flight
Please make sure you read, sign and send back the below terms and conditions document upon booking. Click here for details on our Melbourne flight.
Terms and conditions
Request the EAB terms and conditions document prior to booking by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org