Pilots & Balloons

Congrats to our 2017 winners!

1st Place – Tom Caton, flying the Maryville University balloon
2nd Place – Steve Mroz for Re/Max of St. Louis
3rd Place – David Rapp flying the St. Louis balloon

The Great Forest Park Balloon Race is a Hare and Hound-style Race. Orange Blossom, The PNC Bank Balloon, is the “Hare” launching and landing first and placing a target on the ground for the “Hounds” in pursuit to try their aim at tossing a birdseed bag closest to its center.

Action ATM Banking Network – John Rucker (Genoa City, WI)
  Arcis Golf – Susan Stamats (Cedar Rapids, IA)
Susan been a commercial balloon pilot since 1984 and with more than 2,500 flights, mostly in Cedar Rapids, IA, where she has a ride business. Stamats has flown in competitions around the country competing in weekend events as well as the Nationals. She’s also flown in Mexico, France, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Poland. Her highest flight was 18,500’ over the continental divide in the Rockies and the longest flight was 100 miles.    
  Ascension – Roy Caton (Cedar Hill, MO)
Roy started flying hot air balloons in 1977. He earned his private pilot’s certification rating the following year. Caton started flying fulltime as a professional pilot in 1982, the year that United Van Lines started their program, now the second longest running balloon program in the United States. His travels have taken him to all 48 continental states, driving over one million miles, and logging over 2,000 hours of flying time.    
  Blue Moon – Jack Semler (Westfield, IN)
Jack’s favorite event through the ballooning season is the Great Forest Park Balloon Race, it’s a chance for Jack and his family to visit local friends and relatives. Jack flies his balloon “Chasing Dreams,” named by his wife Lynn, for his dream and passion of flying balloons. When not flying one of his other special shape balloons, “Oggy the Friendly Dragon,” and “Smiley Scarecrow,” (both found on Facebook). He’s flying 767 freighters for a Tennessee based cargo airline.    
  Butler’s Pantry – Dick Goss (Leander, TX)
  Charter – Janice Sines (Jefferson City, MO)
Janice has been ballooning since 1972 when she took her first balloon ride with Tracy Barnes, founder of The Balloon Works. That year she earned her commercial balloon rating and traveled with her husband, Gary, throughout 15 states flying balloon promotions, selling rides and giving instruction. In 1974 Janice received the BFA Distinguished Aeronaut Award. Ballooning highlights include flying over the Pyramid of the Moon north of Mexico City, placing second in the 9th Ladies World Cup held in Chez Charon, France, and flying in the first balloon race in Inner Mongolia, China. Other memorable flights include, adventure flying over the rain forests of Costa Rica, and racing in Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. Her most adventurous racing was with Bill Woodhead in the New Mexico Challenge in Albuquerque where one year they placed second, one year first, and one year had to be helicoptered off a mountain.    
  City of St. Louis – Bill Smiley (Olathe, KS)
Bill has been flying balloons since 1980. Smiley is a Mechanical Engineer in Kansas City, he restores antique cars in his spare time and loves to water-ski. Smiley has attended the Great Forest Park Balloon Race since 1989. He owns and operates Hot Expectations Balloon Co flying charter flights in the Kansas City-area.    
  Daniel & Henry Company – Terry Montague (Centralia, MO)
Terry has loved ballooning since he saw a balloon floating above his mom and dad’s pasture. After Montague’s first ride, he said he wanted a balloon and before the next year came around he had a balloon system. Montague has flown commercial balloons and banners for companies. Montague has flown in Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Mexico. He has more than 400 hours in balloons and enjoys every moment with family and friends. One of Montague’s favorite things is to see the smiles and the fun kids and adults have at balloon events and just flying over town. He celebrates ballooning with his wife Cindy, and his son J.T. and his daughters Christa, Jordan Ohl.    
  Dirty Dogzs – Jason Gaines (O’Fallon, MO)
Jason attended his first Forest Park Balloon Race at age five in 1978. “I would see the balloons fly over my house in Ballwin all summer long and would make my mom chase them down, I was hooked, they fascinated me for some reason.” Gaines began crewing in 1986 as a 13-year-old, began my flight training in 1997, and realized a childhood dream come true when he received his private pilot’s license in 2001 and commercial in 2003. Gaines has more than 800 pic hours and has flown in 20 states and 3 countries.    
  Drury Hotels – Alan Lawson (Taneyville, MO) Alan has been ballooning for 10 years. Lawson is a commercial balloon and a commercial fixed wing pilot with glider and seaplane ratings. Lawson is a retired fireman with 25 years at the Springfield, Mo.fire department.    
  Enterprise – Michael Boylan (Washington, IL) Michael works as a systems analyst, has a wife, Wendy, and two grown children. Boylan began flying hot air balloons in 1992. Commercial license in 1994. Won category in Balloon Federations’ Long Jump competition in 2001 for small balloons. Longest Flight: 138 miles. Highest: 11,5000 ft. Fastest: 58 MPH    
  Forest Park Forever – Tim Graham (Columbia, MO)
Balloon Name: No Regrets    
  Fox 2 & KPLR – Joe Ream (Champaign, IL) Joe (Joe Tomato) is the better half of the two world famous Flying Tomato Brothers (who’s Ralph?). Commercial pilots and instructors of balloons and fixed wing aircraft since 1974, the tomato brothers (age 28) fly the tomato balloon, the first special-shaped balloon ever licensed in America, over their Garcia’s Pizza in a Pan restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, & Texas. With over 4,000 flight hours, the tomato brothers are skilled at safely executing high wind take-offs and landings, since much of their experience is ballooning over Big Ten football games on windy afternoons. Joe & Ralph are honored to be the longest continuous attendees of The Great Forest Park Balloon Race (42 yrs.), and to often be selected as the Hare Balloon.    
  Humane Society of Missouri – Dan Schettler (St. Louis, MO) As one of the founding Partners, Dan is a key factor in the success of the The Great Forest Park Balloon Race. He coordinates the entire launch field and operations related to creating the festival surrounding the race.    
  KMOX Radio – Carlton Sumner (Rincon, GA)
Carlton has more than 20 years of flying experience and has logged more than 10,000 hours in balloons, airplanes, and gliders. His passion for aviation took him to the University of North Dakota where he earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Aeronautics as well as multiple pilot ratings. From school, Sumner spent the next 13 years as an airline pilot flying passengers all across the United States. Sumner has fully immersed himself in the sport of ballooning, attending festivals and flying any chance he gets. Sumner’s professional aviation career has taken him to Savannah, GA where he trains Gulfstream pilots on various Gulfstream types. He is married to his beautiful wife Kaytie. They have 3 children; Selah, Allison, and Noah.    
  Maher and Buck Chiropractic – Larry Owen (Danville, IL)
Larry got his Commercial Hot Air Balloon license in 1998. He also has a fixed wing Private, Commercial and Instrument license. His wife Sheelagh is also a private Hot Air Balloon pilot. The Owens live in Danville Illinois. He is a Financial Advisor and Sheelagh does purchasing for a large manufacturer. They have flow all over the United States, Canada and Mexico. The Owens have flown in the Great Forest Park Balloon for 11 years and it is one of their favorite balloon events. Owen won the event in 2011.    
  Marcus Wehrenberg Theatres – Greg Hanson (House Springs, MO) Greg began crewing for hot air balloons in 1976. He began taking pilot lessons in 1977. Hanson received his commercial certificate in 1979 and began flying full-time. Hanson has accumulated 2,200-plus hours and has flown balloons such as the Energizer Bunny Hot “Hare” Balloon and the 7-Up Can in 35-states. Hanson lives with his wife Karen in House Springs. In his spare time, he can be found in a fishing boat on a quiet lake, hoping to catch “the one that didn’t get away!”    
  Maryville University – Tom Caton (House Springs, MO) Tom has been flying hot air balloons since 1985, thanks to his cousin Larry and brother Roy who got him involved in ballooning. “It is a wonderful sport it’s been a lot of fun. I’ve met a lot of new people and had a great time with friends. It never gets old flying because each flight is different than the last so it’s always something new and exciting. It’s always great to see how much fun and excitement your passengers are having and being able to point out wildlife in different landmarks when flying. Enjoy life be happy.”    
  Miller Lite – Glo Kehoe (Albuquerque, NM)
Glo belongs to an elite group of only six women in the U.S. who make their careers as full-time corporate balloon pilots. Kehoe’s ballooning career has taken her to more than 40 states. The most treasured award she has received was the Spirit of Ballooning, presented to her by her fellow pilots at an event in Tucson, Az.    
  Missouri Lottery – Jim Wolters (Jefferson City, MO) Jim started flying Hot Air Balloons in 1978. During his career he has flown the Pepsi Balloon,Mt. Dew Balloon, Pantera’s Pizza, Pizza Inn Balloon and has been flying the Missouri Lottery Balloon since 1992.    
  Phillips 66 – Scott Appleman (Albuquerque, NM)
Scott is the Rainbow Ryders, Inc. Hot Air Balloon Company, President/CEO providing balloon rides and corporate promotion. Rainbow Ryders is celebrating its 35th Anniversary and is the largest balloon ride business in the United States. We operate 25 balloons year round doing over 1800 flights per year and flying over 25,000 passengers. With full time operations in Albuquerque, and Phoenix with 60 employees. We have flown in 45 states and have manage events in Bentonville, Arkansas, Albuquerque, Phoenix, Colorado Springs, Chihuahua Mexico and Guadalajara, Mexico. Appleman achieved his Commercial Pilot License Lighter than Air, September 1984 and has 5200+ pilot in command flight hours, 800 tether hours, special shape balloon pilot.    
  PNC BANK #1 – Larry Salters (High Ridge, MO)
Larry first participated in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race 31 years ago and looks forward to many more. After nearly 40 years of flying full-time, part-time, and for recreation, he still most enjoys fall flights when the leaves are changing around the hills of the St. Louis area. Not all years are equally colorful, but when they are, it is always worthwhile.    
  PNC BANK #2 – Gary Whitby (Columbia, MO)
Gary was born and raised in St. Louis and attended the Great Forest Park Balloon Race in its early years and dreamed of one day flying his own balloon in the event. After volunteering at a balloon event, he came home and announced that he wanted to get his own balloon. In 1996 he ordered his new balloon and has been flying ever since. He has competed in competition ballooning at the U.S Nationals Hot Air Balloon Championships and flown in events across the United States as well as in Mexico at the International Festival Del Globos held in Leon Mexico. Every flight is a new adventure and Gary enjoys sharing his love of flight with his passengers. Gary and Cindy Whitby currently live in Columbia, MO. Gary Whitby owns and operates the Pepperidge Farm cookie and cracker distributorship in Central Missouri.    
  Purina #1 – Scott Wooge (St. Louis, MO)
Scott & Cynthia Wooge have been involved with Ballooning since 1984. Currently Scott is an At-Large Director for the Balloon Federation of America/BFA & Treasurer of the local ballooning club: Gateway Aerostatic Assoc/GAA. They sell balloons for Lindstrand Balloons USA & operate a Repair Station in the South County-St. Louis-area when they are not working at their full time jobs.    
  Purina #2 – Ken Walter (Waukesha, WI)
A balloonist since 1988, Ken has logged over 1,300 piloting hours. Walter, a full-time balloonist, owns and operates WindDancer Balloon Promotions. He lives in Waukesha, WI with his wife, Kay, and three boys, Jack, Ben and Max. WindDancer organizes balloon events, provides advertising/promotional opportunities and offers passenger flights. Walter is also an authorized dealer for Lindstrand Balloons. The Walter family travels to balloon events across the country and enjoy the freedom and serenity that ballooning provides.    
  Re/Max of St. Louis – Steve Mroz (St. Louis, MO)
Steve started Flying Hot Air Balloons in 1978 and has Logged more than 3,800 hours in Hot Air and Gas Balloons with an accident free record. Mroz is FAA Certificated Pilot in Gas and Hot Air Balloons and is also an FAA Certificated Repairman. He has flown in many states throughout the U.S. including many corporate brand balloons. His most memorable flight was an altitude attempt flight to 35,00 Feet and an additional long distance winter flight of more than 276 miles non-stop. Mroz is currently the primary pilot for RE/MAX of St. Louis flying their balloons across the Region doing Aerial Advertising at various community events in the St. Louis-region.    
  St. Louis Children’s Hospital — Keith Fear (House Springs, MO)
A 27 year veteran Commercial Hot Air Balloon pilot, Keith owns and operates Balloons Over The Rainbow, Inc., one of the largest balloon ride companies in the United States. In addition to St. Louis, Balloons Over The Rainbow operates World Balloon in Albuquerque New Mexico, Pueblo Balloon in Taos New Mexico, Verde Valley Balloons in Cottonwood Arizona, Vegas Balloon Rides in Las Vegas and Orlando Balloon Rides in Orlando Florida. His company introduces tens of thousands of people a year to ballooning and helps them create memories that will last a lifetime. Come join Keith for the experience of a lifetime!    
  St. Louis Post-Dispatch – Tony Sandlin (Fishers, IN)
Tony is the owner of Midwest Balloon Rides. Sandlin has flown more hours than any other balloon pilot in the state of Indiana over the last few years and has currently logged over 1575 hours in balloons total. He was born and raised in Indianapolis, IN and now lives in Fishers, IN with his wife, Gail and their 3 sons. Sandlin became involved in ballooning in 1989 after answering an ad in the Thrifty Nickel Newspaper looking for a person to join a hot air balloon crew team. From there he studied to become a private pilot and then became a commercial hot air balloon pilot in 2005. Tony sold his first balloon Inflated Ego and currently flies either Blown Away or the largest of his balloons Out of the Blue that carries one of the only baskets with a door in the tri-state area.    
  Stange Law Firm – Adam Magee (Swisher, IA)
Adam grew up ballooning, his mother is also a commercial pilot. Magee achieved his private rating at 16-years-old and his commercial rating soon after. Magee has flown at events and competitions across the USA including The US National Championships, US Open Championships and the National Balloon Classic. Magee is a 2015 Iowa State Champion and was selected as a member of Team USA to represent the USA at the Jr. World Championships in 2012 (Lithuania), 2014 (France), and 2016 (Lithuania).    
  Studio 2108 – Jady Wade (Eminence, KY)
  Sunny Side of Louisville – Dan Hoehler (Louisville, KY)
Dan Hoehler started flying hot air balloons back in 1981. Thru his flying,he had flown for companies like Porter Paints, Ray-O Vac, Sunny Side of Louisville! He has flown for many other company balloon programs. Dan had seen a large part of the United States while promoting and sharing flights along the way. He and his wife Lisa are looking to put lots of big smiles from the youngest child to some of the senior guests who will be visiting this years event. Along Dan’s 35 years of flying he has been to the Forest Park Balloon Race 5 times. Dan looks forward to flying and meeting some new timers this year. If you get out say hello to some of our balloon crew! Hope for sunny skies and light winds.    
  Thompson Price Kitchens Baths – Alan Zielinski (Niles, IL)
Alan has had two passions, flying and architecture. When he is not managing his 60-year-old family architectural and design firm, he can be found at or near your local airport. Flying for more than 40 years, he began flying fixed wing aircraft in 1973 and discovered ballooning in 1979. Last year completed his 33rd year flying at Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. With over 10,000 hours of accident free flying experience to draw on, Zielinski is often found speaking to aviation groups, instructing and writing safety related articles and is involved in teaching the Civil Air Cadets and flying in AA’s young Eagles Program. Retired from one of Chicago’s Top 500 Corporations as Chief Pilot, he is type-rated in the Citation series of jets, holds single pilot qualifications and currently holds six world speed records. Still flying Citations, Zielinski is certificated as an Airline Transport Pilot, Land & Sea and Commercial Pilot in Gliders and Balloons. He holds the distinction of being an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner for fixed wing and balloon operations and is a member of the FAA’s new FAAST Team. Alan has been awarded The Spence Award by the Chicago Flight Examiners Association and The Theo Award by Chicago Flight Instructors Association for his contributions to aviation safety and leadership within the aviation community.    
  Toyota – Kim Magee (Swisher, IA)
Kim is originally from St Louis, MO now residing in Iowa with husband Adam Magee. Kim is from a ballooning family her mother, father, husband, and Mother-in-law are commercial pilots. This summer Kim and Adam competed in the Women’s and Junior World Hot Air Balloon Champions, respectively.    
  Private Entry – Frank Anger (Tupelo, MS)
  Private Entry – Mike Bien (Chesterfield, MO)
Mike began flying airplanes during college and received his pilot’s license in 1972. He was eventually balloon certified in 1984 and now operates Balloonacy, a local balloon ride business. A native St. Louisan, Bien identifies his roots as attending Little Flower, then Bishop DuBourg high school, with Graduate degrees from Lindenwood and Webster Universities.    
  Private Entry – Dean Carlton (Danville, IL)
Dean is a commercial pilot from Danville, Illinois. Carlton and the Ca-Zoo crew starting flying balloons in 1997. His local crew consists of a large extended family and a close association of friends (the Danville Balloon Group) that crew together for 6 local balloonists. Carlton’s wife Angela is the crew chief and children Ryan and Kelli crew for this colorful balloon. Carlton and some friends have developed an informative crew training website located at Cazooee.com, which he uses to provide his out-of-town crew some advanced training before rallies. Competitively, Ca-Zoo has won first place at prior Quincy, Lincoln and Peoria festivals in Illinois, and in Muncie Indiana. Carlton is also the founder of the annual Les Nessman Memorial Turkey Drop event held each Thanksgiving in Danville (an homage to the newsman in the TV show, WKRP in Cincinnati). In 2002 Dean had the opportunity to take Captain James Lovell, Jr., commander of Apollo 13, for his first balloon flight. When not in the air, Carlton is a commercial real estate developer for Heritage Development Services Company.  
  Private Entry – Ryan Carlton (Danville, IL)
Ryan Carlton is a 29-year-old commercial pilot and flight instructor from Danville, IL. This year he is flying the balloon “Hello, Sweetie!” owned by his student, friend, and crew chief Brock Gale, who has just earned his own pilot’s certificate in May of this year. Carlton and Brock are both excited to be a part of The Great Forest Park Balloon Race.  
  Private Entry – Tim Cloyd (Runnels, IA)
Ballooning has blessed Tim with the ability to bring much joy to a countless number of people. Cloyd has flown 7 balloon flights of more than 100 miles including a 413-mile flight with a top altitude of 17,900 feet and top speed of 83.5 mph. The annual flight is called “Extreme Flight to Find a Cure” which raises money for cancer research. Cloyd flies with the names of people who have dealt with cancer through “Lifting UP a Loved One.” For a minimum $10 donation to his non-profit charity and a designated cancer organization Cloyd will fly the name of a Loved One.  
  Private Entry – Don Conner (New Albany, IN)
Don started flying balloons in 1972 and was one of the first balloonists in Indiana. He has been a full-time professional balloon pilot since 1979. Don and his wife (and Crew Chief) Debbie have traveled extensively during his career, flying in 25 countries, including long term positions in Jamaica, Kenya,Egypt, Oman, and Tanzania. Among their favorite places to fly balloons are Italy and Thailand. Don and Debbie now reside in New Albany, Indiana where they operate Great Flight balloons.  
  Private Entry – Preston Gebhart (Indianola, IA)
I am from Indianola, IA and have been a pilot for 10 years. I am a Financial Crimes Investigator for Wells Fargo. This is my 2nd year attending Forest Park as a pilot and am honored to be able to fly at such a wonderful event. I have an 18 year old daughter and a 12 year old son.  
  Private Entry – John Hitron (Louisville, KY)
John has been a balloon pilot since 1979 and first flew in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race in 1982.  
  Private Entry – David Holmes (Rocheport, MO)
Retired minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ); married 41 years to Lysa; 3 married children; 4 grandchildren; rides a Harley Electra Glide Classic; ballooning 19 years; participates in balloon events in Canada, Mexico, Missouri, Oklahoma and Indiana (so far).  
  Private Entry – Keith Lutz (Corrales, NM)
Commercial balloon pilot, flight instructor, and competitor. 2016 US Nationals Rookie of the Year. Past Flying Events Director for the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association, the world’s largest single location ballooning organization hosting monthly events of between 30 and 100+ balloons, President of Top Gun the NM Competition Balloon Club, and Event Organizer for the Rio Grande Classic. Has flown internationally in Great Britain, France and Mexico and represented the United States at the reenactment of the first balloon flight in the birthplace of ballooning, Annonay France.  
  Private Entry – Liz Magee (Columbia, MO)
Liz started flying in 1995, when the National Balloon Championships were in Columbia, MO. Her children were 8 and 5 at the time. Ballooning quickly became our summer family activity. Husband Noel is the navigator. Son Adam, who was 5 when Magee began flying, is now 26 and a commercial pilot and flew for the 2nd time with Team USA in the Jr. World Championships in Lithuania in June 2016. Daughter-in-law, Kimberly Wooge Magee, also a commercial pilot, got the bug from both of her parents who are also commercial pilots.  
  Private Entry – Joe Nusrala (Defiance, MO)
Joe has a love for flying. He flies both hot air balloons and helicopters currently. He is just now getting into powered paragliders. Nusrala has been flying balloons since 1987. Nusrala has flown over 600 flights. He took second place at the Great Forest Park Balloon race in 2011 and won 1st place in 2013. He lives in Defiance, MO, and owns an internet business that sells luggage, backpacks, briefcases and shoes.  
  Private Entry – David Rapp (St. Louis, MO)
David is a licensed balloon, airship, glider and airplane pilot. He is an FAA designated examiner, Director of Balloon Federation of America, balloon ground school instructor at St. Louis Community College and author of the BFA’s Flight Instructor Manual. He is most often seen training student pilots in St. Louis. He has come in 2nd and 3rd in the Great Forest Park Balloon Race.  
  Private Entry – Joe Richie (Bryant, AR)    
  Private Entry – Daniel Salters (High Ridge, MO)
Daniel has been around ballooning all his life. His father, Larry Salters, a pilot since 1978, has shown the family how ballooning can be a fun activity shared with others. Together, they enjoy local flights with family and friends as their primary flying time. Making ballooning a low-key recreational activity has kept it fun for everyone involved.  
  Private Entry – Ralph Senn (Champaign, IL)
Ralph (Ralph Tomato) is the better half of the two world famous Flying Tomato Brothers (who’s Joe?) Commercial pilots and instructors of balloons and fixed wing aircraft since 1974, the tomato brothers (age 28) fly the tomato balloon, the first special-shaped balloon ever licensed in America, over their Garcia’s PIzza in a Pan restaurants in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, & Texas. With over 4000 flight hours, the tomato brothers are skilled at safely executing high wind take-offs and landings, since much of their experience is ballooning over Big Ten football games on windy afternoons. Ralph & Joe are honored to be the longest continuous attendees of The Great Forest Park Balloon Race (42 yrs.), and to often be selected as the Hare Balloon.  
  Private Entry – Wayne Standefer (Italy, TX)
Largest balloon ride operator in Texas, over 23 years as a commercial pilot, Fixed wing, multi-engine, instrument, helicopter and Lta, more than 50 years of flying experience total with 3600 total time.  
  Private Entry – Denis Sutter (Hallsville, MO)
Denis became a pilot in 1996 and has flown in several states and Mexico.  
  Private Entry – Matt Torgerson (Louisville, KY)
  Private Entry – Brian Trapp (Oregonia, OH)
Brian’s professional ballooning career started in 1980 using his borrowed grandmother’s balloon in St. Louis, MO. Over the years, Brian has accumulated more than 4,500 flight hours, mostly in lighter-than-air aircraft, including hot-air airships. Currently, Brian is co-owner of Gentle Breeze Hot Air Balloon Company, Ltd. (www.HotAirBalloonRides.com) and owner of the maintenance facility,R4BR027N. Having flown throughout the United States, he has also flown in multiple counters, including running a balloon ride operation and repair facility on a small island in the South Pacific, Fiji. Balloon maintenance has been an integral part of his career and has returned to service hundreds of aircraft over the last 30 years. Trapp’s formal college education earned him a Bachelor degree (1989) in the Management Information Systems through the Business Administration College of the University of Cincinnati.  
  Private Entry – Travis Vencel (Bloomington, IN)  
  Private Entry – Donna Vish (Danville, IL)
Donna says ballooning gives her an opportunity to meet people from all walks of life and make friends all over the world. Every flight is just a little different and a new experience each time, but one thing that is a constant and for which we need no language translation and that is the large smile on everyone’s face as they get to crew and/or ride. Ballooning has always been a family event in the Carlton Clan. Donna started crewing at the Danville Balloon Classic, where her family sponsored a husband and wife balloon team. Donna tallied over 15 years of crewing experience before she realized her dream of becoming a private balloon pilot in 2001 and a commercial pilot in 2006. Donna and her husband Don, crew chief travel all over North America flying. She has flown Leon, Mexico for the largest Mexican balloon event, Festival Internacional del Globos, L’international de montgolfieres de Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec Balloon Festival held near Montreal and various events throughout the USA. While most of the ballooning events they attend are in the Midwest Donna has gone to Albuquerque to crew or fly for the last 18 years.  
  Private Entry – Mike Wade (Lexington, KY)
Private Entry – Mike Wadley (Weldon Springs, MO)
Mike is a second generation hot air balloon pilot. Both of his parents are lighter-than-air pilots and he has held his commercial certificate for fifteen years. Together, his family has over 1,200 hours of ballooning experience. Wadley is a past president of the Gateway Aerostatic Association in St. Louis and recipient of the Balloon Federation of America Directors Award. His piloting experience includes a flight to 12,000 feet and participation in events throughout the country, including the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  

September 14-15, 2018

Celebrating our 46th Year

The oldest and most well-attended
FREE Hot-Air Balloon Event in the World

2017 Event Photos