Meet your 2020 pilots!

Click on each pilots name to see more info.

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 fifteen 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: Firedancer

Bio: Have been flying balloons for 19 years and have flown in 15 states from Oregon to Virginia, Washington to New Mexico and never wished I was doing something other than flying.

Balloon: Windrider

Bio: Began ballooning as a Sponsor at the Great Reno Balloon Race 1992-1995 and started lessons in 1986. Got my Commercial and Instructors Certificate in 1999. Was on the board of directors for the Great Reno Balloon Race 2004-2009 as a Trustee and Pilot Rep. Fly many events in Nevada, CA and Utah. Enjoy flying for the beauty of the land and the joy it brings to people. Married to my wife and fellow balloon pilot Chris for 45 years this Aug 24, 2019. We have 4 children and 9 grandchildren. We are both born and raised in Nevada and currently living in Sparks NV. Practicing Chiropractic since 1986 in Reno, NV Worship Team guitar/vocals at Spirit Filled Church in Sparks, NV and Music Worship Team leader at Christian Events/Festivals in NV & CA.

Balloon: Dakota

Bio: Ron Cassidy and wife Sue have been flying balloons for 30 years. Currently living in Homedale, Idaho. Most of our flights have been in the north east USA with occasional trip to the mid west, south west and Europe. Ron is an avid amateur balloon builder with many balloons to his credit. Additionally, Ron is an FAA certified hot air balloon repairman. We look forward to participating in the festival.

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 over 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 president of the Willamette Aerostat Society from 20113 through 2015. I’m currently a FAASafety Representative, a post I’ve held for over 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: Little Wing

Bio: Started flying balloons in 1978. Attended Pacific University in Forest Grove Oregon. Stayed in Oregon until 1984 . Flew all over the Northwest in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho during that time. I moved to San Diego in 1984 and have continued to fly mostly in Southern California. But attended races in Windsor California and Boise Idaho. I love flying in the Northwest Art & Air Festival and it is always so nice to be back flying in Oregon again! I love the wide open spaces and beautiful landscape and great people.

Balloon: Morning Glory

Bio: Bio: I have been ballooning for 20+ years. My ballooning partner and crew chief Bales and I 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 30 plus 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. 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 my time gets split. I have been blessed to be able to have flown in events in OR, WA, CA, NM and Nevada.

Balloon: Padre Del Sol

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 35 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. Dale flies in the Willamette Valley and at several balloon rallies in the Northwest. In 2015, he got his current balloon, "La Jolla."

Balloon: Sonoma Star

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 15 years in the Sonoma Co. wine country. Sold the biz in 2015 and "retired". Now back managing and lead pilot for Up & Away. Have flown in CA, NM, NV, OR, WA 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: 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 860 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: Just In Kace

Bio: I grew up around single engine fixed wing planes as a kid, but I always marveled at hot air balloons gracefully coloring the sky. Many years later, my now wife took me out to crew for 7th Heaven. She had been crewing under him for many years. It was exhilarating, but yet, peaceful. The pilot, Ron Grove, encouraged me to become a pilot as well, like really?! The next year I was studying away under the wing, errrr envelope, of Chris Whitfield and purchased my first hot air balloon, like this is getting real now. With many thanks to my family and wonderful crew, just this last year I received my private pilots certificate, with the goal of going commercial soon. Now I get to help gracefully color the sky.

Balloon: Endless Joy

Bio: McKenna has had a love for ballooning her whole life, and began to be fascinated with them when she was young while watching them fly from her house. At a young age she was determined to someday be a hot air balloon pilot. With lots of hard work and support from other pilots, she achieved her pilots certificate in July of 2016, on her sixteenth birthday. In August of 2018 she achieved her commercial certificate, and has been flying all over the country since then!

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: 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 21 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, New Mexico 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: 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: WWJD

Bio: Bill has been a balloon and airplane pilot for over 40 years and has amassed over 3700 hours as PIC. He has flown balloons in most of the United States, Canada, Africa, Israel and New Zealand. He enjoys flying at Albany at the NW Art and Air Festival. He currently resides near the Coeur D' Alene, Idaho.