Nicolas Pedro Brau is Chief Pilot at Global Ballooning Australia. He joined us, as Pilot, 10 years ago.
His duties are:
Flights over the city in a safe and friendly environment for our passengers.
He has flown 3355 hours with Global Ballooning Australia.
The whole decision process, trying to fly the best possible flight with the reigning weather conditions....with this I mean, the best views of the city, being able to get to a good landing site relatively easily and at the same time enjoy my flight as well...being able to vary what we do during the flight....go high to get great views, play around in some park close to the trees while flying low, hitting the targets as often as possible...or at least more often than Kiff!!!!! I also enjoy the team work with crew and other pilots, which makes what can be a difficult job so much easier.
If you could share one tip with a new employee, what would it be?
Enjoy things outside ballooning, watch good movies, travel if you can or while you can. At work, try to learn whatever good traits experienced people have (and there is a lot of combined experience in our team to take advantage of) and think ahead of what the balloons are doing while they are flying. If on the ground, have gloves readily available always and go over the safety issues in your mind all the time.
Knowing passengers have enjoyed the flight as much as I have, or even more when we have those flights which we know, as pilots, that we have seen better ones. So many of the flights over Melbourne are what we call the 1000 dollar flight, where the views or the experience is priceless for whoever is lucky enough to go up on that day. One knows when the experience is absolutely unforgettable, fortunately over Melbourne and the Yarra Valley this happens often.
Describe yourself in three words
Patient, intense, positive
Standing in a shop as a sales person trying to convince someone that the clothes they were looking at would look good on them. Did it for two weeks when I was 18.
If you weren't doing this job, what would you be?
Oceanographer or trekking guide.
How many times have you been ballooning?
In which locations have you flown over?
England, Scotland, France, Austria, Uruguay, Argentina, Mexico
If you could choose one place in the world to fly over in a hot air balloon where would it be?
Born in the UK in 1962, Nicolas Brau lived a great part of his life in Argentina, mainly Buenos Aires and Bariloche in the Southern Andes. From a young age he became a member of the Club Andino in Bariloche, where he learnt to ski and took part in all mountaineering and climbing activities. He later complemented this with Outward Bound courses in England and Scotland.
He learnt to fly aeroplanes and received his first licence when he was 19 years old. At 22 he graduated as a trekking and mountaineering guide in the first course ever run by the Argentine Mountaineering Guide Association. He subsequently worked for a few years as a guide and outdoor activities instructor during the summer and on the ski slopes during winter
This passion for altitude and flight eventually brought him to discover ballooning at the beginning of the 1990's during a trip to England. He learnt to fly balloons with Terry McCoy in the town of Bath . He later worked for Virgin ABC, then a company owned by Richard Branson, where he learnt much of the experience involved in using these aircraft for advertising brands and products.
In 2002 Nick moved to Melbourne, Australia, on a contract to fly over the city with its high rise buildings and close to 4 million inhabitants and has since made Melbourne his home. Nick also operates his own promotional balloon company Flying Brands.
Nick holds licences in England, Argentina and Australia. He is the most experienced mountain pilot operator in South America and has been ballooning champion three times in Argentina. By 2008 Nick has accumulated 2000 hours flying both conventional and special shaped balloons and has flown over more than 100 cities all over the world. He has unusual experience in that a very high proportion of his airborne hours have been flown inside airport controlled zones and, due to geographical or meteorological reasons, in technically difficult areas.
Background also includes: Mountainerring and skiing.