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: Unnamed

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: 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: 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: 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: 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: 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. 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: 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: 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: Outer Limits

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: 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: 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: Morning Melody

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: No bio submitted yet

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: 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: Endless Joy

Bio: McKenna has had a love for ballooning since she was little, 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 support and training, she achieved her pilots certificate in July of 2016, on her sixteenth birthday. She has been flying and making memories since then, and is currently working on attaining her commercial pilot's certificate!

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 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: 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: 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.