Holy blast valve! They are flying that thing themselves. I guess that isn't beyond the realm of imagination. Balloon Excelsior in Manteca, California, is just one of many licensed balloon pilot training programs. For $2,200, plus your own balloon, equipment, propane, insurance, chase vehicle and crew, you can get the FAA required 10 hours of ground training and 10 hours of flight to qualify for your Private Pilot Certificate under Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part 61.
The past eight years have been a blank for Adam, and balloon pilot school is the first missing piece of that puzzle.