The Account of Rob Parker
I started my career as a hot-air balloonist who was approached by
another balloonist looking for some ground crewmen. When he asked me if I'd
join his crew I said "Sure, I'm not doing anything this weekend." Well, that
weekend has turned into 8 1/2 years so far, and it doesn't look like it's
going to end anytime soon. I knew on my first day as a ground crewman that I
wanted to be an airship pilot, so I worked hard, and learned all of the
ground positions, and duties associated with maintaining and operating a
commercial airship, hoping that one day I would be able to take command of an
airship as a pilot.
In the meantime I was also working on the prerequisite ratings
required by Airship International, my employer at the time, who required
their pilots to have at least commercial and instrument ratings before being
trained by them as airship pilots. Once I obtained these ratings, I remained
a ground crewman until a new airship was built, creating the need for a new
pilot. This was the opportunity that I had been waiting for. I was trained,
and became a fully certified airship pilot. I had my dream job!
A year later, Airship International encountered some financial
problems which forced them to lay-off some of their pilots. I was invited to
stay on as a crewman, due to my past experience, so I stayed hoping that they
would once again need certified pilots. Unfortunately, Airship International
never did recover from their economic hardships, but I will forever be
grateful for the opportunities they gave me by training me and letting me fly
their airships all over the U.S. and even to work for a brief time in Mexico.
After leaving Airship International I was unemployed for a brief time
as there aren't many places for a "Blimper" to find work. It is a specialized
trade with few operating companies to look toward as potential employers.
Eventually, I was approached by The Lightship Group, (Formerly Virgin
Lightships) who was expanding their operations thereby requiring more pilots.
I've been with The Lightship Group for almost two years now and have been
having the time of my life. With them I've flown in the U.S.A., Canada,
England, France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Luxembourg, and even
Malaysia. The Lightship Group is involved not only with advertising, but has
also done scientific work for NASA, The British Ministry of Defence, and even
marine research as well as onboard live television downlinks for various
sporting events such as The Kentucky Derby, Baseball World Series, The
Superbowl, FA Cup Football and many more. For more information regarding The
Lightship Group please visit our website at
- Rob Parker