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Ballooning over Greece

Ballooning over Greece is unusual and rare, and were it not for two brothers, who are enthralled by it, there probably would be none such in the country…

Ballooning over Greece is unusual and rare, and were it not for two brothers, who are enthralled by it, there probably would be none such in the country. The pioneer is Miltos Kotzagherides, a tall, robust gent who hails from the village of Xiropotamos, just outside Thessaloniki. Fascinated with flying at the age of 17, he paid frequent visits to the Greek Air Force base in northern Greece. That was in 1979. One year later he started to fly.

By the year 1985, he had earned a commercial pilot license in the UK and worked as a pilot flying private air taxis in Lebanon for two years. He had studied in England, and returned there in 1987 for a four year period, again flying air taxis. In 1988, he got involved with airships within England and France. His brother George, five years his junior, joined him in 1990.

It was in 1993 that he became the first person to be awarded a balloon pilot`s license in Greece (actually the first such every issued) on the basis of his qualifications in the United Kingdom, as Greece had no civil aviation instructors and examiners. Brother George was awarded license number 2.

Subsequently Miltos became the chief instructor and examiner for the Greek Civil Aviation Authority for balloon licenses in Greece. He has devised a three month course of study and practice. In this official capacity he has qualified five others, who work for his private company, which operates airships in Greece and elsewhere.

He has logged over 4,000 hours in airships, with brother George some 2,500. Miltos adds another 500 hours per year to his experience. He has flown all over the world, over such diverse cities as Istanbul, Tokyo, Cairo, Larnaca, Belgrade, Budapest, and all over the UK.

Miltos is an active member of the National Aero Club of Greece and is vice president of the Federation of Airships International.

At present his company, based in Thessaloniki<.>, operates special balloon flights over Athens and other areas of Greece. These include chilled special French champagne served aloft, and transfers to and from balloon sites.

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