Balloon Pilot Information

Meet your 2017 pilots!

Click on each pilots name to see more info.

Balloon: Dragon Moon

Bio: A half-hour hot air balloon flight in 1978 changed Jeanne’s life and captured her heart. Three and a half years later she was a commercially-rated balloon pilot. She has flow Dawn Patrol at the Great Reno Balloon Race and many other rallies around the West since 1986. She has served as a BFA western region Director, been president of the PCA and Sioux Falls Balloon Association, Newsletter Editor for the Pacific Coast Aeronauts for 10 years, organized the PCA Montgolfier Dinner for 20 years, was organizer and balloonmeister for the Siskiyou County Balloon Faire for 7 years plus served as a Counselor at BFA Youth camps for the last 3 years. She has flown in all the western states (except Hawaii and Alaska) and many states in the mid-west and Switzerland and France. Flying in Albany is always fun; making new friends and connecting with long time friends.

Balloon: The Plum

Bio: I saw a hot air balloon for the first time when I was 13. The next weekend I was out crewing for a local pilot. That was 39 years ago, and I haven't regretted a moment. Since then I've spent years flying airplanes, hang gliders and paragliders. And as much as I enjoyed those experiences, nothing compares to flying balloons. Ballooning is so much more than a sport to me. I've flown balloons on both coasts, and a few places between. Standard round balloons and special shape balloons ranging from 21,000 cubic feet to 315,000 cubic feet. Flying has never been boring. I own an LTA repair station in Boise, Idaho named Archey Aero. So when I'm not flying, I'm maintaining balloons and rebuilding baskets.

Balloon: Kaleidoscope

Bio: I have been involved in ballooning since the 1970s. It has been a family affair from the very beginning with my wife, Carol, and two sons. John and David (the boys live in Colorado and are both commercial LTA pilots). I am a commercial pilot, rated in both hot air and gas balloons and currently have over 2000 hours. I am an active Flight and Ground School instructor and participate in numerous Safety Seminars. I am one of a disappearing breed of FAA LTA Designated Pilot Examiners. Over the years I have been active in the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association (AAAA), the large balloon club in Albuquerque; the Balloon Federation of America where I served as president; and, currently I serve on the Board of Directors for the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. We have flown in many U.S. states, Mexico and Canada as well as France. We recently flew over the Alps in gas balloons from Germany to Italy. We also have flown over Pikes Peak with our Colorado friends. For us, every outing is an adventure; we particularly enjoy introducing new people to the sport.

Balloon: Makin' Friends

Bio: I got my start in ballooning when I volunteered to help crew for a balloon event in Boise. After helping set up and take down the balloon I was hooked and started asking a lot of questions about how it all worked and what it took to fly the balloon. I started crewing regularly and eventually started training for my pilot certificate. I have had my balloon for nine years now and have attended balloon events all over the Northwest. When I am not flying my balloon I manage a CPA practice in Boise.

Balloon: Tierra Madre

Bio: My name is Carmen Blakely. I started crewing for hot air balloons in 1994; after my first flight I knew that I had to learn to fly. I received my Private pilot’s license in 2000 and my Commercial license in 2001. I now own half of three balloons with Cheryl Isaacs, flying in the Willamette Valley and travel, as much as possible to balloon rallies around the western US.

Balloon: Heiress

Bio: My balloon experience started with a camera around 1986. I was very interested in photography and balloons. My husband and I would always stop to take pictures whenever we saw balloons on our early morning drives. Knowing that Albuquerque was the largest balloon festival in the world and the most photographed event in the world, I insisted that we go. We came home hooked on ballooning. Through a friend we started crewing for a local pilot and eventually became regular crew for him. Over the next four years we traveled extensively to every balloon event we could - often driving the truck with the balloon equipment to and from events while the pilot traveled comfortably by airplane. It was this pilot who encouraged me to get my pilot's license thinking I should take my balloon experience to the next level. In 1991with the help of my dad, I purchased my first balloon and got my license. I eventually went on to get my commercial license and now own a fleet of three balloons. I have found ballooning to be challenging, rewarding and peaceful all at once. I never tire of sharing the sport with new people and have made some great friends over the years. Ballooning has taken me to places I would never have a reason to go to and has given me the opportunity to meet people I never would have met otherwise.

Balloon: Kearney's Mistress

Bio: I got involved in Ballooning over 25 years ago. crewing then in 1996 I started my pilot training and in January 1997. in 2003 my wife told me to buy a brand new balloon so it would last better than the used ones I owned in the past. So in Oct. 2003 I ordered a new Cameron balloon and it has served me well. the name of my Balloon is Kearney's Mistress as my wife says it is the only thing I can spend money on other than her.

Balloon: Tahnimara Two

Bio: Roy Foote Have been ballooning for over 25 years. We support the VA each year with a tether for anyone who is a patient of the hospital. Held at the Va hospital itself We have flown near here numerous times when the Nortwest balloon championships were in Salem

Balloon: Knight N Gale

Bio: I’ve been flying since 1979 and received both of my certificates in 1980. My experience has summed to nearly 1,000 hours mainly the Northwest with a few excursions into California and New Mexico. My most frequent flying has been at organized rally events. I’ve been active in the Balloon Federation of America and ran the Continuing Education program for five years and have organized safety seminars in the 90’s and three after the millennium. I’ve also led the local and regional clubs, in the 1980’s and am the current president of the Willamette Aerostat Society. I’m currently a FAASafety Representative, a post I’ve held for some five years. I’ve enjoyed the flying of balloons immensely yet the people that serve as our crew, passengers and the public have kept the spark alive which keeps me and my wife Shari going in ballooning.

Balloon: High Def

Bio: Tom has been involved in ballooning since 1973. First chasing balloons with his parents during the 1973 World Championships held in Albuquerque, NM, and later as a crew member and then eventually as a pilot. In the mid 80's he talked his wife into using the downpayment to their first house to buy a balloon! Aptly it was named Priorities. Tom extended his flying abilities to include his commercial flight certificate and quickly became a very active flight instructor. Over the years he continued to expand his flying by adding a fixed wing endorsement to his pilot certificate. Tom spent several years providing balloon rides in the Boise Idaho area and he recently has become the pilot for “Speed Bird”, a roadrunner special shape, as well as “Tic – Toc”, a special shape clock.

Balloon: MyAir FlyAir!

Bio: I took my first flight in 2002, it was on that flight that I knew I wanted my own some day. In 2009 I purchased my own balloon and in the summer of 2010 I got my private certificate. I have flown in Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta with my own balloon since 2012, I started competing in 2015 and love it! I flew in Bristonas, Lithuania, July 2016 in the Women's World Hot Air Balloon Championship and then in the first US Women's Nationals during Fiesta in October of 2016. Truly every place I fly is wonderful and it truly is about making memories! In July of 2015 I got my commercial certificate and I love teaching others how to fly. I truly love sharing the sport, especially with kids of all ages!

Balloon: Off the Wall

Bio: Started crewing in 1983 after getting out of college with a commercial/corporate pilot in Gallup, NM. After 6 years I moved to Arizona and eventually Reno, Nevada where I got back to the balloon community and found a great pilot to help me finish my certificate. Earned my private in 2002 and Commercial Certificate in 2007. Bought a special shaped hot air balloon in late 2007 and another one in 2011, so I have gone beyond the 'hobby' stage owning and flying the three balloons. Traveled extensively over the years with the shapes on my various tours, and flown in 28 states and 2 Canadian Provinces, Off the Wall was in the Philippines in 2013 and all I got for it was $100 in very small Filipino T-shirts. . . . I love to fly, and enjoy sharing the gift of flight with others, especially younger people and to tell them it is not as difficult or as expensive as they may think. A retired Special Education teacher, after 32 years I hung up my hat and am now enjoying flying attending events and will one day be building my Dome Home to really enjoy my retirement and projects.

Balloon: Morning Glory

Bio: Bio: I have been ballooning for 20+ years. I flew seaplanes and gliders growing up in New York but the day I saw Ear Force One (Mickey Mouse) land in Tigard, my life was forever changed. I crewed, volunteered, learned (always learning) and flew as much as possible, earning my private and then commercial pilots licenses. I flew little balloons and BIG balloons. Then life changed again. Not many people can say they were "given" a hot air balloon from a complete stranger, but in 1999 after flying at a rally in Tigard, a delightful, handsome and generous gentleman walked up to me and asked my name. I asked why and he told me if I was Laura Hancock, that today was my lucky day. Well it was and i was and oh my. I was given Morning Mist, a 1978 Raven Rally complete with everything needed to fly...except an envelope which had been put away wet. This where the phrase P/U comes from, im sure. I was a single mom with four little kids that had spent their entire young lives around hot air balloons and airplanes, And now i owned one,... that needed an envelope. Fortune strikes again. A dear friend, Bales, that shared my aviation passion, suggested that we become a team, I designed and he purchased our new envelope, and Morning Mist became Morning Glory. We have flown in several states and I have flown in Taiwan. I've put on safety seminars, run field operations, held rallies, written about, taught, learned and flown for over twenty years and still cant get enough. Ballooning is absolute magic, and you can never have too much magic.

Balloon: Saranyu

Bio: Champagne and propane, who could ask for more all before 9:00am, needless to say I am a balloon junkie. I have been involved in ballooning for 26 years. I started crewing for a commercial company in Napa Valley and soon decided that I wanted to fly these magical floating balloons. I earned my commercial ticket in 1996 and have been flying for fun ever since, as I also have a full time career as a Oracle consultant. My husband, Greg and I try to attend as many ballooning events as possible every year, but there is also fishing and crabbing to enjoy here in Oregon, so our time gets split. I have been blessed to be able to have flown in events in OR, WA, CA, NM and Nevada.

Balloon: La Brisa Del Mar

Bio: Bio I took my first balloon ride in Napa, California in 1984 and absolutely fell in love with it. I then began crewing for the U S West Communications balloon with Chauncey who was the pilot then. After a short period away from the activity I got back into it about 12 years ago when I took my husband for his first flight with a company in Newberg. We both got hooked on it and began crewing every weekend. I finally decided staying on the ground all the time wasn’t as much fun as being in the air so in the year 2000 I got my private and in 2001 I got my commercial license. It has been a great time ever since. I am partners with a friend and together we now own 2 balloons of our own. I travel around to a variety of places to enter into festivals and to fun fly so I can see different sights and people. I hope to continue for several more years before the fun runs out, if it ever will. Cheryl Isaacs La Brisa Del Mar Balloon Commercial Hot Air Balloon Pilot

Balloon: La Jolla

Bio: Dale has been around hot air balloons for over 30 years. He started his pilot training in 1984. He completed the requirements and passed his Private tests 25 years later, in 2009. He never gave up the dream of being a pilot. He has had the "Outer Limits" balloon, since 2007 and has flown around the Willamette Valley and at dozens of balloon rallies in the Northwest. In 2015, he got a larger envelope, which he renamed "La Jolla," so he could fly more weight and fly "cooler" at higher altitude rallies. He also passed his Commercial tests and received the "2015 Aeronaut of the Year" award from the Willamette Aerostat Society. For Dale, giving others the thrill of flying in a balloon is a great pleasure. Often, it is their first flight, and one they will always remember. Dale also takes many pictures at balloon events and the pictures are appreciated by fellow balloonatics.

Balloon: Boss

Bio: Started ballooning in 1993 by answering an ad in the newspaper. Got to fly the Burger King Whopper balloon when still a student. That did it. Created and ran a commercial ride business, Up & Away Ballooning, for 16 years in the Sonoma Co. wine country. Sold the biz in 2015 and "retired". Now fly for Blue Mountain Balloons in Walla Walla, WA. Have flown in CA, NM, NV and New Zealand. Enjoy the most? After flying over 10,000 passengers, still love to share the experience with first time riders.

Balloon: SewHappy II

Bio: I started hot air ballooning in 1980 when my husband Bob decided to swap his beautiful glider for our first balloon. We "paid our dues" with the early morning long drives to launch sites for Bob's instruction and the grueling "how to be the perfect crew chief lessons." There were the perks of finding new friends; the beauty of our colorful hot air balloon, Sundance; the fun of sharing our adventures; and learning about this whole, new unknown world. After Bob completed his commercial license, it became my turn to learn to fly. On my first flight I was hooked--BIG time! Bob was (is) a very thorough and demanding instructor. Despite all his efforts however, I received my commercial license in 1984. I became the local instructor, guiding students to their pilot's certificate. In 1986, Bob built our first homebuilt balloon, Castaway so that he would have a balloon to fly, as I somehow always managed to be the pilot-in-command. Thus started our life as a two balloon, two pilot family. Throughout the years we have continued our homebuilding and I currently fly our sixth homebuilt balloon, SewHappyII. We travel to rallies around the Pacific Northwest and enjoy our beautiful local flying area. I fly balloons as a hobby, for the therapy, for the love of the sport and the friendships ballooning brings, and for the opportunity to share the magic with others.

Balloon: Alternate Universe

Bio: I took my first balloon ride in Anchorage, AK and was instantly hooked on ballooning. The pilot told me to volunteer as ground crew for a ride operation and recommended some pilots in my area to contact. I returned to Portland and began working as a crew member for Greg Ashton, Kong Shields, and John Cox. After obtaining my commercial rating I flew as the chief pilot for Northwest Aviation doing scenic flights and gave pilot instruction. I have been flying since 1985. My wife Becky is my crew chief. I love taking people for their first flight by balloon and sharing a unique experience. When we are not flying, my wife Becky and I work as Senior Paramedics in the Multnomah County 911 EMS in the Portland Metro area.

Balloon: Obsession

Bio: My introduction to Ballooning was a ride auctioned on the Reno PBS Station. About half way through the ride I asked my husband Steve "when are you buying me a balloon?". I became a Private Pilot in 2002, and got my Commercial Pilot Certificate in 2003. I have approximately 750 hours as Pilot in Command, and attend many Ballooning Events throughout the West. I enjoy the family atmosphere at these events, and often bring my Grand kids with me. Introducing school children to the sport of Ballooning is my favorite activity, getting kids involved is important to me.

Balloon: Starburst

Bio: Jesse Rafn has been involved with the sport of ballooning since before he could walk or talk. Jesse always knew that he wanted to do more than crew. While he was still little dreamt of being a pilot, building his own little “hot-air balloon” with wooden pallets in his garage. However, his creative spirit did not stop there. When Jesse turned 18, he finally received his long, sought-after private balloon license. He then earned his commercial license in 2011 and started his business, “Floatin’ on Air”. Today, you can find him at a number of festivals throughout the Northwest, always easy to spot.

Balloon: High Hopes

Bio: Alan started crewing for a coworker in 1985. In 1991 he started flight training, and received a commercial pilot certificate in 1992. He has over 800 hours experience flying hot air balloons. He was issued a Repair Station Certificate in 2000. He retired from the electronics industry in 2002, and moved to Albany in 2005. He operates the only FAA Part 145 Repair Station in Oregon that is rated for hot air balloon repair and inspection, and repairs balloons from Oregon and several western states..

Balloon: Simpatico

Bio: I have been flying Aerostar balloons for 25+ years and have logged over 500+ hours participating in organized events and fun flying in California, Arizona, Texas, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and New Mexico. I have coordinated, hosted and provided instruction at our yearly Safety Seminar for over 13 years in the Pacific Northwest. I've organized balloon events across Nevada and California and occasionally provide Ground School to new aspiring student pilots. Currently you can find me flying in Oregon with my husband, Student Pilot, Greg Schofield and my son Riley. We enjoy the many relationships we have built over the years and the wonderful new friends that we have introduced to ballooning. The best part for me is showing our passion with our passengers, crew and spectators that we run in to every day. Delivering a great experience to those that participate in the flight or on the ground operations is key to our success. It is in our blood and collectively between my husband and I, we have been in ballooning for over 53 years. Where else can you enjoy a beautiful morning and see the sights, eat and drink champagne before noon :)

Balloon: Pencil boy

Bio: I'm a second generation pilot. My wife and I are involed heavy into education supporting education choice for parents and students. My wife, daughter, I travel with our shape Balloon named pencil boy handing out free book and pencils to young children encouraging kids to reach for the stars as no dream is to big. We love to share ballooning with everyone.

Balloon: Endless Joy

Bio: I've had a passion for ballooning since I was little, with a dream to be a pilot. With the support of many other pilots and my parents, I achieved my pilots certificate in July of 2016, on my sixteenth birthday. I took my check ride in Albuquerque during balloon camp, and since then I have been flying all over Washington, Colorado, and New Mexico, and learning a lot. I have definitely been enjoying the amazing sport of ballooning!

Balloon: Nat

Bio: I started Ballooning in the fall of 1972 when the legendary Col. Chauncey Dunn arrived in my home town of Walla Walla WA. To do a week long promotion for home coming at Whitman College. After being spellbound watching his first flight I showed up to crew on all the subsequent flights that week. During his brief stay in Walla Walla Col. Dunn sold a couple of other local enthusiasts on the sport of Ballooning and when Nat Vale and Bill Lloyd took delivery of their new Balloons I started crewing with them and learning to fly. In the spring of 1974 it was decided that the Walla Walla valley needed a Balloon event and thus the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede and Pea Picking contest was born. The event lasted for 40 years and I attended all of them. Since those early days I have flown in all 50 states, operated ride businesses in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and New South Wales AU. Flown corporate and special shape balloons all over the world, helped organized and served as Balloonmeister for several Balloon events throughout the Northwest including the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede I own Columbia Balloonport a certified repair station for Balloons in Walla Walla WA. I am a dealer for Lindstrand Balloons and work part time at the Lindstrand Balloon factories In Galena IL and Oswestry UK and am in charge of special projects.

Balloon: Renegade

Bio: Scott has been flying hot air balloons since 1975 and has logged over 3000 hrs of flight time. He has flown in most of the US states, and half of the Canadian Providences. Scott and his wife Richelle paid their way through college flying balloons and have spent many years traveling to balloon events. Their son Chase now has his license and is joining Scott in this event. Scott is currently employed as a Lead Project Engineer/Program Manager at the Boeing Company. Chase also works at Boeing in Supplier Management.

Balloon: Starfire

Bio: Larry Simburger began his ballooning involvement at the age of 15, by participating as balloon crew. He has always had an interest in aviation eventually making a career in the aviation industry at Boeing. Ballooning has been a family adventure, Gail his wife and sons Dave, Mike and Matthew have grown up in the ballooning community. Larry flies a balloon named Starfire a colorful balloon designed and named by his family. Larry’s newest addition to his family is Leo, he loves balloon chasing and is wonderful greeter to all the people who show up during flying and packup. Larry and crew are looking forward to coming back to Albany to visit with old friends and the opportunity to make new friends.

Balloon: Sundancer

Bio: Brann Smith Sundancer My first experience with hot air ballooning was 20 years ago. It then became my passion as I soon realized that it is such an amazing and unique sport. In 1999 I completed my commercial pilot training and began flying in Oregon with my own company. I believe hot air ballooning is not just about flying but the people you encounter and the wonderful experience and memories we create together. During my career as a Pilot, I have flown in six states; Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and now California. Currently in Chico, California I am again flying as a business and give back to the community where I grew up. I hope to share the joy and serenity of floating through the air with as many people as I can, hoping to inspire the feeling of freedom and adventure to the hearts of others that it brings to me.

Balloon: Free Spirit

Bio: Dana started his aviation addiction in 1977 when he earned his private pilot’s fixed wing license. Soon after, He got the ‘lighter than air’ bug when he started crewing for his older brother on his hot air balloon in 1978. He received his commercial balloon license in 1980. He started making balloon flights in the dark before sunrise, called ‘Dawn Patrol’ flights in 1981 and continues to do so today. He has flown in every ‘Dawn Patrol’ flight at the Great Reno Balloon Race since 1984. 2017 will make it the 34th GRBR ‘Dawn Patrol’ year. He has over 800 hours of fixed wing time and 1800 hours of hot air balloon time. He has flown to greater than 18,000 feet five times. He has flown at speeds of 46 MPH in a hot air balloon. He has flown over the Diablo Mountain Range from the Morgan Hill area to the Central Valley four times. He has flown as far as 56 statute miles away from his take-off point in a hot air balloon. His crew gave him the nickname ‘Boomerang’ because there have been many flights where he was able to find winds that would allow him to navigate back to the same field that he took off from.

Balloon: iSOAR

Bio: Mark earned his fixed wing pilots license in 1984 and hot air balloon license in 2008. Mark has flown in several hot air balloon rallies in Oregon, but considers the NW Art & Air Festival as one of his favorites because of the enthusiastic crowds the event draws, as well as the wonderful land owners in the greater Albany area. When not ballooning, Mark stays busy flying search and rescue missions with the Oregon Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. Mark is also an avid runner, and enjoys running in half marathons.

Balloon: Sierra Sunrise

Bio: My ballooning experience began as a sponsor and crew member for the Sierra Sunrise Balloon at the Great Reno Balloon race in 1994. I sponsored Sierra Sunrise every year until I purchased the balloon in 2006. Received my balloon pilot certificate in 2006 and with my wife, Bobbie, have participated yearly in balloon events in Nevada, Oregon, California and New Mexico. Prior to retiring, I spent 40 rewarding years in the field of Engineering and Research fields, retiring as Director of R&D at IGT in 2008. We call Carson City “home” enjoying our eight grand-children and ballooning, friends and family.

Balloon: Heaven Bound

Bio: Chris took his first hot air balloon ride in September, 2007, with Alan Sanderson and was immediately hooked. He purchased his first balloon the following spring with his uncle, Jason Fast, and began training with Marianne LeDoux. He got his private license in September 2008 and continued sharing a balloon with Jason through 2009. Chris flew his second balloon during 2010 and, with instruction from Carmen Blakely, achieved a commercial rating in October. In the spring of 2011, he and his wife Jennifer built their current balloon, Heaven Bound, with guidance from Bob and Marianne LeDoux. Chris and Jennifer live in the Albany area and Chris is the balloonmeister for the Northwest Art and Air Festival.

Balloon: HIS SKY

Bio: Bill has been a balloon and airplane pilot for over 35 years and has amassed over 3500 hours as PIC. He has flown balloons in most of the United States, Canada, Africa, Israel and this year in New Zealand.