First Balloon Event Symposium, Plano, TX

The Balloon Federation of America presents this first of its kind conference designed to educate balloon event officials and organizers alike on the various aspects of running a safe and successful hot air balloon event.

Or maybe you want to consider adding hot air balloons to your community event for greater exposure. The Balloon Event Symposium will be hosted in Plano, Texas at the Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park the weekend of January 11-13, 2019. The Hilton is a 4-star hotel and convention center located a convenient 24-minute drive from either DFW airport and Dallas Love Field. The site was selected for its easily accessible hub airports, warm winter climate and an active local ballooning community.

The Mission of the Symposium is to bring together all parties interested in hot air balloon events including event officials AND organizations who host or may be interested in hosting a balloon event, and pilots interested in learning more about event safety. The Symposium is designed to promote a free exchange of ideas in a social gathering that will feature two distinct but intertwined tracks: Balloon Event Organizers education and Officials training. The BFA publication, Balloon Event Guidelines, will be utilized to provide many of the training opportunities.

Event Organizers Track

This track will provide insight and practical solutions on how to start or enhance an existing hot air balloon event or add balloons to your community event. Topics include the following:

  • How to use hot air balloons to grow your existing event
  • Determining what type of event you wish to be: Fiesta, Ride, Competition or hybrid
  • Presentations from long-standing successful balloon events: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Great Texas Balloon Race, Plano Balloon Festival and more
  • Selecting the right team: where do I start and what am I looking for? What kind of 'balloon' staff do I need?
  • Sample organization chart
  • Financial and budget considerations: average cost per balloon, use of gate proceeds or parking to meet budget, sponsors, fund raising and grant writing, and successful programs used at long-standing events
  • Sponsor, vendor and crowd management
  • Working with community emergency and safety services
  • Auxiliary entertainment – how much is too much?
  • Volunteer and manpower needs and recruitment
  • Logistics and infrastructure, field size
  • Ride/tether operations and management
  • Historical weather analysis and when should I hold my event?

Event Officials Track

Event Officials will receive specific training with a free exchange of ideas for these positions:

  • Balloonmeister
  • Weather Officer
  • Safety Officer
  • Scoring Officer
  • Chief Measurer

While individual content for each official will vary, the critical theme of each will include these topics:

  • Balloon Event Guidelines will be used to develop specific teaching points for each official's position
  • How to become an official
  • List of resources for help
  • Role playing and case studies built around officials working together for task planning and go/no-go decisions
  • Fundamental principles of scoring, use of GPS loggers and practical experience in the use of the BFA Scoring Program
  • Officials team recruitment and development
  • Back room technology
  • Review philosophy of rules and development
  • Tasks: when they work and when they don't

Combined Work Sessions

Combined Work Sessions will cover these topics important to both officials and organizers:

  • Risk management, insurance and legal
  • Accident and crisis management
  • Working with your local Flight Service District Office (FSDO) and the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS), sample waivers and emergency response plans
  • Airspace, FAA and regulations
  • Pilot recruitment, screening and acceptance
  • Media relations and important social media do's and don'ts
  • Working session role playing with officials and event organizer
  • Roundtable Q&A

What’s Included?

The weekend starts with a cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception on Friday evening January 11th followed by a group introductory presentation explaining the goals and objectives of the weekend. Saturday January 12th sessions include break-out and combined sessions running from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM. The Symposium concludes by 10 AM on Sunday allowing ample time for airport connections.

The registration package includes deluxe hors d’oeuvres at welcome reception, breakfast on Saturday and Sunday, morning and afternoon refreshment breaks and Saturday lunch buffet.

Discounted room rates are available from $129 plus tax. Click on the following link for hotel information.

Make Hotel reservations

Hilton Dallas/Plano Granite Park
5805 Granite Pkwy
Plano, TX 75024
(469) 353-5000

Contact Us
Balloon Federation of America
P.O. Box 400
Indianola, IA 50125
(515) 961-8809


  • Full Registration - $250.00
  • Meals, Breaks & Socials - $180.00
  • Friday Reception Only - $50.00

Register Here Today!