Kiff Saunders   Pilot

Kiff Saunders is Big Kahuna/director at Global Ballooning Australia. He joined us, as An Optimist, 32 years ago.

His duties are:

Chief Pilot, Flying over Melbourne and Flight Training. I also find I am also responsible for any job that I can’t find someone else to do.

He has flown 4074 hours with Global Ballooning Australia.

What do you like most about your job?

I love the fact that I am always learning – whether it be associated with the vagaries associated with the forces of nature or the subtleties of human interaction. I also feed of the enthusiasm of our passengers enjoying their first balloon flight – it is a joy to work in a profession where people are celebrating life.

If you could share one tip with a new employee, what would it be?
Whistle while you work.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

Without a doubt being up in my balloon on a beautiful morning with happy passengers enjoying their first lighter than air experience.

Describe yourself in three words
Intensely in control

What was your worst ever job?

Lumberjack – Getting up at sunrise and having to work all day cutting down pine tree’s without so much as a thought of a Champagne Breakfast.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be?
Less sleep deprived

How many times have you been ballooning?
Maybe 3000

In which locations have you flown over?
Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, Luxemburg, Switzerland, China, Nepal, USA, Canada

If you could choose one place in the world to fly over in a hot air balloon where would it be?
I would love to traverse the Swiss Italian Alps.

Kiff's background

Kiff Saunders has had an interest in aviation from a very early age. At 15 he gained his gliding license, at Camden Airport, which is adjacent to his family home. Kiff's grandfather, Edward Macarthur-Onslow, was one of Australia's early aviators who, during the 1930's, founded the Macquarie Grove Flying School, at the site of what is now the Camden Airport. Kiff's interest in balloons was stimulated by the arrival in 1983 of Peter Vizzard's company, Balloon Aloft, at Camden Airport. Kiff began crewing for balloons touring around Australia, and his interest intensified. He began his pilot's training, under Peter Vizzard (Australia's only World Ballooning Champion), and gained first his private Pilot's License, then onward to his Commercial Balloon Pilot's License.

After working for Balloon Aloft for four years, Kiff decided to branch out on his own and bought a Tasmanian based ballooning company, which subsequently became Global Ballooning Australia Pty Ltd. Since the early days as a single balloon operation, Global Ballooning Australia has now grown in size incorporating 15 balloons and six commercial balloon pilots. Kiff is involved in ballooning activity all across Australia and the company has grown to become Victoria's largest ballooning company.

Kiff, as Director/Chief Pilot of Global Ballooning Australia, is a delegate of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and is an Australian Ballooning Federation flight examiner. He has flown balloons extensively, both in Australia, and overseas, including such countries as Japan, Canada, Europe, China, USA and New Zealand. He has represented Australia at four World Ballooning Championships. In August 1995 Kiff achieved an 'Australian first' by being the first balloonist to fly across Australia's highest peak Mt. Kosciusko and over the Snowy Mountain range.

He helped to set up Nepal's first commercial balloon company offering passenger balloon flights over Katmandu and awesome views of the great Himalayan range.

In 2002 Kiff was inducted into the Australian Ballooning - 'Hall of Fame' for services to ballooning. He is responsible for training many of the commercial balloon pilots flying in Victoria today and his achievements were recognised in 2002 when he was inducted into the Australian Ballooning Federation Hall of Fame.

Kiff featured on Australian Story, "Kiff Saunders' passion is hot air ballooning and he turned it into a highly successful business as well. But, despite all his success, something was missing, and Saunders admits to being at odds with himself. Already reeling from two major traumas, a motorcycle accident finally pushed him to the brink. During the long process of physical recovery, Saunders rediscovered important personal values. It all culminates in a stunning hot air balloon flight over Lake Eyre." ABC Australian Story July 2010.


Border Mail - Saturday, July 4, 2009Border Mail - Saturday, July 4, 2009 (743.80 KB)

Learn more about Kiff by clicking here. 

Selected Photos

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