Balloons / Pilots
Click on any of the images below to read information about each balloonist and view a larger photo.
1 - Deja Vu
Pilot: Jenny Fritton
Jenny is the balloonmeister for Balloons over Niagara. The balloonmeister conducts weather briefings for the pilots at a balloon festival and decides if conditions are favorable for each flight. Jenny and her husband Bob started ballooning twenty years ago, shortly after they were married. Their yellow balloon Amazing Grace used to be a familiar site over Niagara County. The Frittons purchased their second balloon, Deja Vu after an 8 year hiatus from ballooning.
5 - Re/Max
Pilot: Carroll Teitsworth
Carroll started his aviation career as a US Navy Pilot. He then operated a small airport and flight school for five years before becoming a full-time balloonist in 1978. Now he operates the Liberty Balloon Company. He, his wife Miriam, and their “Board of Directors” (2 sons, 2 daughters, and 11 grandchildren) offer balloon rides, do 2 RE/MAX promotional balloon contracts, and offer balloon assembly programs to schools all around the USA.
9 - Gypsy Wind
Pilot: Stephen Peck
I Live in Battle Creek, Michigan. I am 67 years old and have been flying for 22 years. Became involved with ballooning in 1984 when the World's came to Battle Creek in 1985. My wife Sandy and I became observers and crew. Served as debriefers at the world's in Canada and Luxembourg.
We are both retired and functioned as counselors working for the state of Michigan.
We have two grandchildren. We are volunteer educators at our local zoo and volunteer with the American Red Cross, serving as disaster team members and mental health specialists. With our commitment we do not have a lot of free time am not a big competitor but enjoy giving rides with and for my volunteer crew.
To Sandy and I, we simply enjoy the beauty of a balloon flight. By accident, I have won a small balloon event a few years ago. I feel I win on every flight due to the fun I have and beauty I get to observe.
11 - Dream Chaser
Pilot: Joe Doerer
Joe and his wife Janet took their first balloon ride in August of 1984 at a festival in Bloomsbury, NJ. The following year they both began a training program to become pilots while crewing for other balloonists. After three lessons Janet decided that flying as a passenger and celebrating after the flight was a lot more fun than learning about FAA regulations and how to track weather. They purchased their Dream Chaser balloon in 1985 and Joe continued on to receive his private pilot license. Joe’s brother Jim joined the Dream Chaser team early on as their crew chief and has progressed over the years to a Balloon Federation of America Level Four Master Crew Chief. Joe earned his commercial pilot license in 1989, allowing him to fly paying passengers and train future pilots. He has been an active member of the Great Eastern Balloon Association (www.gebaballoon.org) since the mid 1980’s and is a past President of the association.
The Dream Chaser crew flies mostly in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York area. They also have flown at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 1991 and the Festival De Montgolfieres in Saint Jean Sur Richelieu,Quebec since 1993. Our goal in ballooning is to enjoy safe, fun flights while carrying on the tradition of friendship and freedom that have long been the symbols of ballooning.
13 - Sky Candy
Pilot: Scott Saxton
Scott Saxton has been around hot air balloons since the age of two. Once old enough, he began crewing, and then eventually started pilot training in 1994. Scott received his Private FAA License in 1998, and then his Commercial FAA License in 2001. He and his brother Tony founded Endless Mountains Hot Air Balloons, Inc in March of 2003. In 2005, the company expanded to fly passengers in both Northeastern and Southeastern PA. Scott has crewed for and flown balloons throughout the United States, including flying the Corn Palace Balloon Club special shapes and the Liberty Bell Special shape.
15 - Seagull
Pilot: Bill Hughes
Bill is a former Naval Aviator with over 9,000 hours of flying experience. While in the Navy he served in Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. He has been flying balloons since 1970 and has attended balloon events in the US, Canada, Asia, and Europe. He currently operates a balloon ride business in the Hudson Valley and serves as Balloonmeister of the Mid Hudson Balloon Festival every July. Bill was part of the crew that helped Malcolm Forbes make his record setting flight across the US in 1973.
18 - National Guard
Pilot: Bill Smith
View Pilot Bio
20 - Catfish
Pilot: Steve Bliss
Steve Bliss is a Commercial Hot Air Balloon pilot and has been flying hot air balloons since 1996. Steve and his crew live in the Norwich, NY area . In addition to flights in and around Norwich, they participate in balloon festivals in Oneonta, NY, Glens Falls, NY and Stowe, VT. Providing a safe and fun experience is their focus. Steve and his crew are pleased to be participating in the "Balloons Over Niagara" event. Happy 50th Niagara CC!
21 - Sugar Bear
Pilot: David Jacques
Sugar Bear is owned by the Post Balloon Club piloted by David and Tyler Jaques and based in the Cereal City in Michigan. The famous mascot of Post Cereals is also remembered for his Saturday morning cartoons. His favorite cereal is Super Golden Crisp.
23 - Up-C-Dazey
Pilot: Jim Oliver
In 1996, Jim’s wife, Toni, convinced him to take a ride with their friends, Jenny & Bob Fritton (Amazing Grace)... he loved it and was hooked! Jim is now a commercial pilot who flies primarily in Western New York. He has flown in many rallies, including The Great Wellsville Balloon Rally, The New York State Festival of Balloons, Balloons and Bounty Festival (Oneida), Sky Jam (Jamestown) and the Albuquerque Fiesta in New Mexico. In his non-ballooning life Jim is an optical engineer at the Laboratory of Laser Energetics at the University of Rochester. He enjoys ballooning because it is a family sport which allows him to spend time with his children, Brady (14) and Marcy (12), who are finally old enough to be good crew.
26 - Typnady
Pilot: Richard Buckles
I have been involved in ballooning since 1983, when I had my first ride. After crewing for several years we decided to purchase “TYPNADY”. We have attended balloon festivals throughout New York State, Pennsylvania and Ontario Canada since 1987.
I currently have over 700 hours as a hot air balloon pilot.
We attended the previous "Balloons Over Niagara" festival at the Niagara County Community College and look forward to participating again.
27 - Yeowza
Pilot: Greg Livadas
Greg won his first balloon ride in 1978 and "it was love at first flight!" He obtained his pilot certificate before his driver’s license and operates High Hopes Balloon Co. in the Rochester area. He's flown over Niagara Falls, the Black Hills of South Dakota and in the Swiss Alps. When not flying, Greg works at RIT's National Technical Institute for the Deaf.
34 - Maverick
Pilot: Pat Harwell
Pat has been a Commercial LTA pilot for 21 years, and has over 2,200 hours as pilot in command. He held the world distance record for size AX-4 balloons in 1997. In 2002, Pat won the BFA Southeast Regional Championship. Pat has won the Louisiana State Championship 3 times. He served on the Board of Directors for the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) in 2000.
2 - First/Last Balloon
Pilot: Roy Stinson
3 - Electric Sunrise
4 - Cloud Rider
6 - Mickeys Rainbow
Pilot: Tom Bergeon
Tom has been flying balloons for 32 years. He has over 4000 hours as pilot in command. He was a pilot examiner in Michigan for 20 years. Tom runs the Re/Max balloon program in Michigan. Aloft, Inc., his balloon company, has 6 Re/Max balloons and 5 pilots.
Tom is the first American pilot to fly over the Great Wall of China, flew in the Winter Olympics in Calgary, gas ballooned in Germany, and flew in Albuquerque the past 13 years.
Tom is a retired business owner. He ran a structural engineering business and supplied many wood structures in the East and Midwest.
7 - ClipAway
Pilot: Gene Burnstein
View Pilot Bio
8 - Pinwheel
12 - Blu By U
14 - Synchronicity
16 - Moonshadow
19 - Wild Ride
22 - Sunset Dreams
24 - Sky Drifter
25 - Black Baron III Spectrum
Pilot: John H. Herbst
John is the Executive Director, University of Kentucky Student Center. He lives in Lexington, KY, and grew up on a farm in the Town of Cambria.
John has been around Hot Air Balloons since 1976, when he worked with students at the University of Kentucky to establish the 'Little Kentucky Derby Hot Air Balloon Race~A Thoroughbred Race in the Sky' to raise money for student scholarships. This was the first Hot Air Balloon Race on any college or university campus in the United States of America organized to raise scholarship money. Since 1976 he has served as a Balloon Race/Rally Organizer, a Balloon Meister, an Federal Aviation Administration Liason, a Risk Management Consultant, and a Weather Briefer for the University of Kentucky, The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, the Division of Air Quality of the Commonwealth of Kentucky as a Pilot and Resident Educator and as a consultant to numerous colleges and universities throughout the United States.
As a Commercial Pilot and as an Environmental Educator, John traveled the Commonwealth of Kentucky for more than a decade on behalf of the State Division of Air Quality/Department of Natural Resources teaching elementary and middle school students environmental stewardship, the importance of clean air quality, the importance of higher education, discussing weather dynamics/system development, and explaining the principles of lighter than air flight and aviation regulation. The program was recognized nationally as one of the most creative and effective methods for teaching youth the importance of caring for our environment. While teaching classes and seminars, John would provide tethered hot air balloon rides for students, teachers and sometimes parents; providing a living classroom experience which was often used as a reading incentive program and science project incubator.
After crewing for over 10 years, John earned his Private Pilot License in 1988 and his Commercial Pilot License in 1989. John has flown Hot Air Balloons throughout the eastern United States at many events and Balloon Rallies from Hot Springs, AR to Nashville, TN and Centralia, IL to small villages such as Cambria near Niagara Falls, NY. He loves to introduce people to the sport of Hot Air Ballooning, and give them that quintessential experience of 'lighter than air flight.' There is such a romance about this very first form of aerial flight, which began more than a century before the Wright Brothers ever thought of flying.
The Winds Have Welcomed You With Softness.
The Sun Has Blessed You With His Warm Hands.
You Have Flown So High And So Well,
That God Has Joined You In Laughter,
And He Has Set You Gently Back Again
Into The Loving Arms Of Mother Earth.
28 - The Wish Cake
32 - Still Water
43 - Miss Niagara
Pilot: Charlie Mays
Charlie started flying hot air balloons in 1987 and received his commercial certificate in 1988. His 1st balloon ride was FREE, and the second ride cost him $25,000.00! He has been the owner/operation of "Balloon Impressions," a hot air balloon ride company in the Cincinnati area for more than 22 years. Charlie is married with 7 children and a total of 10 grandchildren. Charlie is a Vietnam Vet, having served 6 years, and is currently employed with U.S.P.S. for nearly 30 years. When he is not working, flying passengers, or hanging out the kids and grandchildren, he likes to go scuba diving with his wife and youngest daughter.
47 - Celebration
View Pilot Bio
36 - Wanderer
Pilot: Larry Lankenau
View Pilot Bio
45 - Whispering Winds
Pilot: Wes Pittman
Wes Pittman, a veteran aviator with thousands of hours in aircraft from multi-engine turboprops to balloons, earns his living by representing injured people throughout the United States. He lives in Panama City, Florida. It was from there that his ballooning career began when his wife suggested that they go to the 750-balloon Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. He reluctantly agreed, thinking they were likely to be bored. Instead, he was so excited by the color-filled sky of balloons, their grace in the air, the open-cockpit style of flying, and the enchantment of the crowds, that he bought a balloon on the spot. Today, he donates much of his spare time flying his balloon, “Whispering Winds”, to raise money for charities such as those serving children with cancer and providing adoptive homes for abandoned animals.
51 - Bama Belle
Pilot: Tim Bassett
Tim is a native of Birmingham, Alabama and obtained his Private Pilot Single Engine Land Certificate in 1984 while he was attending college. He was an avid pilot and persued additional instrument and multi-engine ratings. Due to the demands of a career and family, he took a hiatus from flying for several years until he gave the gift of a hot air balloon ride to his family. After that initial ride, he was hooked on hot air balloons and immediately began training to become a commercial hot air balloon pilot. As luck would have it, there was a balloon training school located near his home in Atlanta, Georgia and he was able to obtain his commercial rating in just a few months.
Since obtaining his balloon rating, Tim has attended and participated in several balloon rallies and festivals including the greatest show off earth, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. In October 2011, Tim purchased a Lindstrand 90A Balloon and named it the "Bama Belle". As a graduate and supporter of the University of Alabama, the name is a tribute to his Alma Mater and home state. On most Saturdays in the fall, Tim and his family can be found at Alabama Football games supporting the Crimson Tide - Roll Tide!!!
46 - Eddie & Rickenbacker
29 - Rens Balloon
Pilot: Dennis Kollin
Dennis was licensed as a commercial balloon pilot in 1975, and founded Sky Adventures as a commercial ride business in 1976. Sky Adventures has taken over 33,000 passengers, and Dennis has logged over 3,200 hours. Over the years, Sky Adventures has owned and operated 29 different balloons, and the current fleet consists of 6. Dennis is FAA certified as a repairman. In his spare time, Dennis and his wife Linda hybridize daylilies at their home in Oxford, Michigan, and enjoy endless hours in the gardens with their dogs, Baron & Desi.
30 - Phiesta
Pilot: DJ Ostrand
DJ is a finish carpenter by trade, and has been a commercial balloon pilot for over 32 years. DJ has taken over 8,000 passengers for rides, accumulating over 2,000 hours of flight. DJ and his wife Diana own and operate a custom frame shop in Lake Orion, Michigan and reside in Oxford, Michigan.
31 - Ragtime
Pilot: Richard Strang
Richard is an engineer in the automotive industry, and has been a commercial balloon pilot for over 20 years, accumulating over 800 hours of flight. Richard resides in Oxford, Michigan with his wife Sandy and daughter Amanda who are his ace chase.
44 - TB Dragon
Pilot: David Sheldon