About us

Vytautas Samarinas

Founder and director, pilot-instructor of Hot Air Lines

I became interested in aeronautics in 1997 while studying in Kaunas. My first flight with Valerijus Machnorylovas, a hot air balloon pilot and Boeing captain, made such a profound impression on me that afterwards I firmly decided to make hot air balloons a part of my life. To tell you the truth, even as an overly enthusiastic second-year student I could never have imagined that three years later hot air balloons would go from being a hobby to being my way of life.
Apart from an aerostat pilot’s licence I got in Lithuania, I also have commercial pilot’s licences of the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Kenya. Since 2001, I have gained more than 2,700 hours of flight experience.
In 2006–2007 together with the alpinist Vladas Vitkauskas we broke Lithuania’s records of flight distance (334 km non-stop), duration (9.21 hrs) and altitude (10,064 m). Pilot-Instructor Robertas Komža and I fulfilled our dream to cross the Southeast Alps: we took off from Italy, flew across Austria and, after flying more than 220 km, landed in Slovenia. Still, what I enjoy most is taking passengers for a first flight. They often ask which of my flights was the best. And I always answer – the best flight is today!
In 2013, I spent more time in the air than I did on the ground. That year I flew hot air balloons not only in Lithuania and its neighbouring countries, but also in Turkey, the USA and Mexico, and began the flight season of 2014 in the Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. Lately I have been flying in Dubai. Wherever I fly, the good emotions, smiles and the vast sky speak to me in a language that is both universal and unique. Its' name is aeronautics!

Donatas Stakeliūnas


Since I was a child I have been interested in two things only: airplanes and trains. Back in 1988 I joined the youth club of hot air balloon construction. Its' leade was the legendary Leonas Simniška, the very first one in Lithuania to construct an air balloon from polyethylene sheet. In spring of 1989 I got a chance to take a flight in an aircraft built by the club's leader. Same year I took a part in the first hot air balloon festival in Vilnius, where I and my pals demonstrated hot air balloon paper models of our own creation. A few months after not only I had my first flight in the ordinary hot air balloon, but also experienced the thrill of a flight in 'An-2' airplane. That very moment I knew the direction of my life. Love for the trains had to shift to the second position.
In 1990 together with a bunch of friends we managed to construct a life-size hot air balloon from the material we knew the best - polyethylene sheet. Next year we improved our skills and built even a better balloon with a hanging burner. The masterpiece of our engineering was represented to the public during the first hot air balloon championship in Lithuania. This memorable event gave me an opportunity to introduce myself to hot air balloon pilot Gintaras Šurkus and other members of Nemunaitis ballooning club. In 1995 I was holding my pilot's licence. I decided to wait no more and joined the club to take a part in any hot air ballooning festival or championship as a member of te ground crew.
It was just the beginning. Throughout 24 years of experience I was a hot air balloon pilot in US, Japan, Australia and most of European countries. In 2010 I wasso thristy for new adventures, so I started a career as a commercial hot air balloon pilot. Firstly, I signed up for 4-year-job in Cappadocia, Turkey, later - I spent 2 years over the savannah of Masai Mara National Reserve in Kenya. That led to the one-year contract in Germany and a few insanely hot winters in Dubai, UAE.
Five years ago I was issued an airplane pilot licence and kept on studying at the school for pilots in Vilnius. Here, I hope, I will finally receive a licence to operate commercial flights. Then..maybe I could start anew as a locomotive motorman.

Dovydas Vaitkevičius


My friendship with ballooning has begun when I was only 12. The leader of ballooning club 'Audenis' invited me to measure the results at the hot air balloon championship in Birštonas. I must admit, I was not thrilled about the whole ballooning thing at first. I did not like measuring the results, so I thought that was the beginning and the end of my journey in ballooning. I was wrong. Later I was offered a position as a member of the ground team. I worked for 5 years and I am happy about this experience, because I realised how important the team is in ballooning. Even now I can help my team members to prepare an aircraft, I am much better at understanding their daily struggle. Later on I felt a passion to learn to pilot an aircraft myself and got a pilot's licence. 

At first I did not pilot balloons often, but a few years after I have started my career in sports ballooning. It is important for me to diversify - I work as a commercial pilot, but from time to time I feel an urge to take a part in sports ballooning events. Within the last 8 years I had performed flights in Vietnam, Mexico, USA, France, Denmark, Czech Republic, Poland. I put all my effort in constant learning process and seek to become as professional as I can as a pilot. Recently, I have been issued a licence to pilot hot air balloons of higher category and have a few awards I feel proud of. I scored 8th at World's Youth Championship and this year for the first time I will take a part in a particular championship with other 109 best sports ballooning pilots. Not long ago I have joined Hot Air Lines team, because I think they are the best in the country!


Vytautas Rudžianskas


My flying career started back in 1998. My very first flight was in Lithuania’s Mecca of hot air balloons, the Nemunaitis village. My future instructor Mr Gintaras Šurkus was the pilot, and a parish pastor and I were the passengers. This ascending to the heavens probably made ​​a much greater impression on me than on the man of God. Since then I barely leave the basket.
In 2005, I obtained a pilot’s licence. My three-digit flight record is not that impressive – I’ve flown for only 400 hours... However, I have to divide my time to fit in other types of aviation – I have an ultralight aircraft pilot’s licence, and I recently passed exams for a private pilot’s licence (PPL). On my free time I participate in flying competitions, where the most important things are speed, perseverance and the will to win. But a pleasure flight with passengers is also an adventure, and careful planning, safety and everyone’s good mood are the priorities our company sets for each flight.
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