Blue Flower

FCE Listening Test 2 Part 4

Part 4

 You will hear an interview with Patrick Shaw, who works as a pilot for a company that

organises hot-air balloon trips. For questions 24-30, choose the best answer (A, B or C).




24 According to Patrick, what worries people most when they take a balloon trip?

A how far the wind will take them

B whether they will hit some obstacle

C what the experience of landing will be like


25 Why does Patrick recommend joining the ground crew?

A It's the best way of learning about balloons.

B It provides some experience of flying a balloon.

C It can be a fun way of earning extra income.


26 What makes the job of the ground crew particularly difficult?

A poor communication with the pilot

B unpredictable weather conditions

C the nervousness of the passengers


27 Patrick says that all members of the ground crew must

A be physically strong.

B have good social skills.

C know their area well.


28 Patrick finds it unsatisfactory when new crew members

A fail to cooperate with each other.

B distract him with unnecessary questions.

C don't accept the way things should be done.


29 What does Patrick say about balloon competitions?

A It is often difficult to determine who has won.

B The finishing target area is often unmarked.

C Some competitors are requesting clearer rules.


30 Patrick thinks his particular skills as a pilot result from

A the way in which he was trained.

B the fact that he's adventurous by nature.

C the amount of experience he has.





24. C

25. A

26. B

27. B

28. C

29. A

30. C

Interviewer: In the studio today is Patrick Shaw, who is a hot-air balloon pilot. Patrick, would you say ballooning is a safe sport? 

Patrick Shaw: Hi. Yes, a balloon's a very simple thing: when the air inside is heated, the balloon rises, and to descend, the pilot allows the air to cool. The pilot has complete control of the up-and-down movements. He may not know exactly where the balloon will land, but that doesn't mean he can't control the landing, which is what people are most anxious about. The fabric of the balloon is tough - if a bird were to fly into it, it would almost certainly bounce off. 

Interviewer: What's the best way to start? 

Patrick Shaw: Well, I started as a member of what's called 'ground crew'. That means the people who help with all aspects of the flight, from take-off to landing. It's a job which keeps you on the ground, but it does allow you to see at first hand what balloon flight is all about. That's why you do it, and for the fun - don't expect any money in return for your efforts until you become a pilot though. They're the only ones who make a living out of it. 

Interviewer: So how difficult is it to become a member of the ground crew? 

Patrick Shaw: The job of the ground crew is to assist the pilot. This includes setting up the balloon, and even talking to the occasional nervous passenger, then taking the chase vehicle and following the balloon. When the pilot has located a field for landing, the crew will be informed by radio. The crew must be there before the balloon lands, but every single flight is different in that any change in the wind will mean the crew must adapt to it; this is the main problem since not even the pilot can predict things exactly.

Interviewer: So not anyone can be ground crew?

Patrick Shaw: I'd say that the main skill of ground crew has little to do with the technical aspects of ballooning and more to do with dealing with the public. When the balloon is landing, the crew has to ask the landowner for permission to retrieve the balloon, avoiding any conflict and ensuring we're not disturbing or damaging property. And yes, some tasks do require a little bit of strength, but don't worry, the majority don't. 

Interviewer: As a pilot, how do you get on with the ground crew? 

Patrick Shaw: Pilots must get on with them. I've never treated any of the crew's questions as if they were silly, not even when I've been asked the same question by the same person over and over again. A new crew member has to understand that every task the crew performs is performed in a certain manner for a reason. When I see somebody ignoring an instruction because they can't see the point of it, that makes me very cross.

Interviewer: Do you take part in balloon competitions?

Patrick Shaw: Oh, yes, they're fun. Balloons don't race in the normal sense of the word. The objective is to get as close as you can to the target, rather than being the first to finish. And it's tough because unlike most other forms of flying, pilots do not have full control over the direction of flight. Competition pilots, though, have become so skilled in using the wind to their advantage that the difference between first place and third or fourth can be just a few centimetres, which leads to some heated arguments

Interviewer: What makes you such a good pilot, Patrick? 

Patrick Shaw: All balloon pilots need a licence to fly. They must have at least thirty-five hours of flight instruction, get basic aviation training and pass a written test. But it's the hours of flying after that that gives you total confidence in your skills. You do things that you wouldn't have dared do when you started out. Like gently brushing the bottom of the basket across the top of a bush or tree so that the occupants can pick up a leaf as a souvenir of the flight. 

Interviewer: Wow, sounds great! Patrick, thank you.