Tips on how to choose a hot air balloon company

Experienced pilots say consumers should check out companies offering hot air balloon rides before taking to the air.

As authorities investigate a balloon crash that killed 16 people in Texas, The Associated Press spoke to an industry group and three experienced pilots to ask what consumers should do to research companies.

They suggest finding out how long the company has been in business. They also say to ask for the names of pilots and their experience level. You can even ask a company to show you its business license, a copy of its insurance policy and pilot certificates.

They also suggest watching the company’s operation during a takeoff or landing. Look for an organized, professional approach and the use of checklists.