Best jobs – hot air balloon pilot

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Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a hot air balloon pilot? We caught up with Markham Boston, a Western Australian hot air balloon pilot living his dream in Kenya.

One of the best jobs in the world?

Drifting over Kenya’s Masai Mara, in a hot air balloon, above vast savannah plains, slender-necked giraffes, herds of topis and elephants is a memorable experience that most travellers might get to experience once or twice in a lifetime.

For Western Australian artist, Markham Boston, piloting balloons has become an inspiring career that affords him the time to pursue his passion for art.

After graduating from Scotch College, Boston enrolled at Claremont School of Art in Perth. It was a move that put him on the path to a career as an artist, which he initially pursued by painting large murals and exhibiting his works in art exhibitions around WA.

balloon pilot

Hot air balloon pilot

In 1998, after obtaining teaching qualifications, he did a stint teaching art at TAFE. But it wasn’t enough to satisfy his itch to see the world and to paint. So, in 2000, Boston had an epiphany that a career as a balloon pilot could be an inspirational day job for an artist.

He had never laid eyes on a hot-air balloon yet he took off for Alice Springs to learn to fly. His hunch turned out to be the path to a new life as a balloon pilot in Melbourne, Gold Coast, New Zealand, UK and Tanzania.

hot air balloon pilot

hot air balloon pilot

“What I really love about flying balloons is that it’s more of an art than a science. There is no auto pilot. It has more to do with sailing than aviation,” says Boston.

Boston lives in Kenya with wife, Kate, and two children, where he pilots a hot-air balloon at Governors Camp in one of the most stunning natural regions in Kenya, the Masai Mara. He loves Kenya for its open plains, big game safaris, rolling mountains, sensational sunsets and happy people.

my dream job

“I work the five to nine instead of nine to five and I get the afternoons off to paint,” he says.

In the past, Boston sold original paintings to private buyers in Australia. But working in tourism has created opportunities to sell his art to tourists at Governors Camp and other lodges.

Kate built and manages the couple’s website, from which they sell originals and limited edition Giclee prints printed in WA and shipped to buyers all over the world. The couple are working on a new project to export African art to the world.

hot air balloon pilot

hot air balloon pilot

Watch this video to find out what it’s like to be a pilot in the Masai Mara:


Discover Kenya

South African Airways flies to Johannesburg with connections to Nairobi.  From Nairobi, Olonana can organise flights to Kichwa Tembo airstrip.

Planning a trip to Kenya? Here are some fun places in Nairobi.

hot air baloon pilot

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Christina Pfeiffer Travel Writer
Christina Pfeiffer is a writer, photographer and video blogger based in Queensland, Australia. She has lived in three continents and her career as a travel journalist has taken her to all seven continents. Since 2003, she has contributed travel stories and photographs to mainstream media in Australia and around the world such as the Sydney Morning Herald, CNN Traveller, The Australian and the South China Morning Post. She has won many travel writing awards and is a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers.