- Coordination—the ability to take physical action in the proper sequence to produce the desired results while launching, flying, and landing the balloon.
- Timing—the application of muscle coordination at the proper time to make the flight, and all maneuvers incident to it, a constant smooth process.
- Control touch—the ability to interpret, evaluate, and predict the actions and reactions of the balloon with regard to attitude and speed variations, by interpreting and evaluating varying visual cues and instrument readings.
- Situational awareness—the ability to sense instantly any reasonable variation of altitude, airspeed, and directional change, as well as a constant perception of relative position to ground-based structures and planned flight track.
A skilled pilot becomes one with the balloon and learns to assess a situation quickly and accurately. He or she also develops the ability to select the proper procedure to follow in a situation, to predict the probable results of the selected procedure, and to exercise safe practices. In addition, a skilled pilot learns to gauge the performance of the balloon being flown and to recognize not only personal limitations, but also the limitations of the balloon. This knowledge helps the pilot to avoid reaching personal or machine critical points.
Developing the skills needed to fly a balloon requires time and dedication on the part of the student pilot, as well as the flight instructor. Each balloon has its own particular flight characteristics, and it is not the purpose of balloon flight training to learn how to fly a particular model balloon. The purpose of balloon flight training is to develop skills and safety habits that can be transferred to any balloon. The pilot who acquires the necessary flight skills during training, and demonstrates these skills by flying with precision and safe flying habits, easily transitions to different model balloons. Student pilots should also remember that the goal of flight training is to develop a safe and competent pilot. To that end, it is important for the flight instructor to insure the student pilot forms the proper flying habits by introducing him or her to good operating practices from the first training flight.