Meet your 2019 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 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: 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: Daybreak

Bio: As most of us were, I was introduced to ballooning as a crew member many years ago. My flight training began the summer of 2000 and finally received my private license in July 2006. Two years later following more training I finally was granted a commercial license in August of 2008 during the Northwest Art and Air Festival. Born and raised in Portland, I now reside in Medford with my wife Robin and two kids Alex and Camryn.

Balloon: Joey

Bio: No bio submitted yet

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: 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 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: Joelly

Bio: Michael Glen grew up with his brother Chris in a small town in New Mexico where his parents Bill & Susie Glen were public school teachers. His father started in hot air ballooning in 1973 and traveled with his family all over the United States pursuing his passion. Eventually it became Michael’s passion as well. As far back as he can remember Michael dreamed of becoming a balloon pilot just like his father. At 21 years old, Michael was involved in a single car rollover accident where he was ejected from his vehicle. He was not wearing a seat belt. This accident left him a T11/T12 paraplegic. Unable to use his legs, this accident seemed to squash his dream of flying a balloon. Now more than 10 years since his accident, Michael has realized his dream of becoming a hot air balloon pilot. Despite his struggles with his disability, despite negative feedback from those who didn’t believe his dreams were possible, despite the fact that no one had ever accomplished what he was setting his sights on, Michael persevered. He is truly an example of what a human being can accomplish with dedication, passion and discipline. Michael has always been one to help others and sincere in his efforts. He credits his parents, teachers and coaches for this attribute. He has a passion for children and is looking to share his story with kids across the country. If you would like Michael to come to your school and share his story, please visit his website or call us at 520-349-4825.

Balloon: One World

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. Last year was my first year flying in the Northwest Art & Air Festival and it was so nice to 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 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 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 dozens of balloon rallies in the Northwest. In 2015, he got his current balloon, "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.

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: Emerald

Bio: Jack’s first stab at piloting was when he was 6 years old. It was a small “line controlled” airplane with a 13-inch wingspan. No passengers! At age 18 Jack started flying “real” airplanes. Over the last 19 years, he has logged over 5,000 hours flying various aircraft. Although he started with airplanes, he now also flies helicopters, gliders, and hot air balloons. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and is a certified flight instructor for airplanes, helicopters, and balloons. His day job is as an airplane and helicopter test pilot. In 2017 Jack’s wife, Sallie, started Willamette Valley Balloons to provide scenic flights for passengers and to travel to balloon rallies. Jack now works for her on his days off, flying the green and black balloon you’ll see at the rally. Stop by and say hi. We’d love to meet you.

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: Citrus in the Sky

Bio: After growing up on a farm in Minnesota and moving all over, Karalyn landed in Reno, NV and saw balloons for the first time at the Great Reno Balloon Race in 2011. She fell in love with balloons and after volunteering for GRBR, crewing for local pilots and helping with High Sierra Balloon Camp in 2013, the next logical step was to become a pilot. She purchased her balloon, Farmer's Daughter, in 2015 and completed her private pilot rating in 2016. In November 2017 she purchased a ‘new to her’ envelope which her boys named Citrus in the Sky. It should provide many years of fun for her and her family. After helping with balloon camps in 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018 she completed her commercial pilot rating in 2018. This past summer she continued the camp tradition by directing 2019 High Sierra Balloon Camp. She's excited to share the love of the sport with anyone and everyone who agrees that it's the BEST REASON EVER to set your alarm clock!

Balloon: Boss Angell

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: 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: 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 900 hours experience flying hot air balloons. He attends several ballooning events in the western US. In February 2019 he attended his first international event in Chiang Rai, Thailand. 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: 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: 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 counts his most significant ballooning achievement as meeting his wife Richelle at a balloon rally. Scott and Richelle paid their way through college flying balloons and have spent many years traveling to balloon events with their children. Their son Chase now has his license and is joining Scott in this event. Scott is currently employed as a Lead Project Engineer at the Boeing Company. Chase works at Phillips Medical 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: 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 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.