THE HOT BUSINESS OF BALLOON LOVE

“The Hot  Business of Balloon Love” written by Maridee Dietzel 

 

It began with a love story. Tamie Folley and Mike Shrum met at a ballooning event in the Philippines.  They shared a passion for ballooning, and about a year later, they began dating.

 

Fast forward to 2016 when they opened their business, Happily Ever After Balloon Company. Tamie was crewing for a friend in Albuquerque when he mentioned that he had an idea that may interest them. He had noticed the shirts Tamie and Mike’s crew wore when working their pink camouflage balloon; the shirts feature a heart with wings on it. The designer wanted to build a balloon in the shape of a heart, but not just an ordinary heart. This heart has personality!

 

According to Tamie, Te aMo, who is named after Tamie and Mike (the capital T is for Tamie, and the capital M is for Mike), is a bit stubborn—he handles and flies differently than their other five balloons. Te aMo’s eyes stand up above the rest of the heart, with his black eyebrows and casual smile showing his playful nature. Two white wings on his back also rise above the rest of the heart, and his hands join in the front with his fingers forming the shape of a heart.

 

Te aMo’s designer spent five months carefully constructing him in Sao Paulo, and his first flight was over beautiful Brazil. He weighs 418 pounds when he’s not inflated. When he is inflated, he measures 84 feet across from elbow to elbow, 77 feet tall, and 45 feet front to back. He can carry up to 350 pounds in passenger weight.

 

 

True to his namesake, Te aMo loves love stories. Many couples ask to propose in front of Te aMo and then have their pictures taken with him in the background. Te aMo even plans to make an appearance at a crew member’s wedding in the not-too-distant future!

 

Te aMo loves to fly, and so does his pilot. Tamie grew up in Albuquerque and enjoyed her first flight when she was 12. A decade and a half later, she crewed a balloon for a friend’s husband at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. This time, the flight changed her life.

 

 

That “flight . . . was more spectacular than words can say!” Tamie enthused. Because of that flight, she chose to become a balloon pilot.

 

“Flying is my greatest passion,” says Tamie. “There’s no greater joy and peace.”

 

 

She is fortunate to balloon full-time, and during peak season, she flies as often as the weather allows, which can be four or more times each week. She’s had her share of challenging weather and rough landings—as says,

 

“All pilots have [those]; if they haven’t, they will at some point! I do my very best to check weather and make the safest choices every flight. I listen to my gut a lot; sometimes you don’t know why your intuition tells you what it does until later.”

 

 

Tamie and Te aMo are so popular that they’ve been able to fly together all over the world. However, her long jump flight competition (a flight in which pilots use a pre-determined amount of fuel and fly as far as possible) in Colorado with views of Pike’s Peak stands out as her most magnificent memory.

 

Tamie and Te aMo are hoping for good weather this year at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.

 

LOVE IS SOARING WITH SAVINGS FOR PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL RACES

Love is soaring with savings for the Plano Balloon Festival Races and there’s much to love about early registration fees.  The Sky High Challenge will have your heart racing when you complete the 5k on Saturday, September 21 and the Half Marathon on Sunday, September 22. Or get that heartbeat fluttering with the Elevate Challenge when you complete the 5K and 10K distances.

 

Either way, you’ll adore the third commemorative bonus finisher medal as a reward for going the extra distance. Sign-up now to receive the early registration fee discount that saves $15 for the Sky High Challenge, $10 on the Elevate Challenge and Half Marathon, and $5 on the 10K, 5K, and 1K races.

 

All runners receive two tickets to the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival plus parking on race day. Early registration ends at midnight on March 31 and you don’t need a code or coupon to save when you sign-up online. These races have registration limits because there are a lot of people who are passionate about running!

 

Our 5K was recently ranked as one of the Top 5K’s in Texas by Texas Runner and Triathlete as seen featured in their Winter 2019 issue. Get ready to run with all your heart, and legs, at the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and 1K races.  #PBFRaces #PlanoBalloon

 

Adobe PDF   Additional FAQ’s

Registration is not available in person at packet pickup or on race days. All registration must be done in advance online.  Registration for the Sky High Challenge, Elevate Challenge, 5K and 1K races will close at Noon on Friday, September 20, 2019 (based on availability and could sell out prior to that date and time).  Registration for the Half Marathon and 10K races will close at Noon on Saturday, September 21, 2019. There is no race day registration.

2015 PBFRaces presented by Advil

2015 video from the starting line of the PBFRaces with aerial footage of the course and hot air balloons. #PBFRaces www.pbfraces.org

Posted by PBF Races on Monday, June 27, 2016

VOLUNTEER TURNED HOBBYIST KEITH BERRY TO PILOT FOX 4 NEWS BALLOON

By:  Amanda Fazzino

 

Balloon pilot Keith Berry caught a bug for hot air ballooning 29 years ago.  “I flew as volunteer crew at a balloon festival in Missouri in 1990,” Berry recalls. “I was immediately hooked!”

 

That one act of service launched a decades-long commitment to the sport.

 

“It’s one of the most awesome feelings to be free and in control of a 75 foot tall, 50 foot wide bubble of hot air floating through the sky,” Berry says. “It’s like being able to walk on air!”

 

A Missouri native, Berry moved to Plano in 1998 and quickly got involved with the Plano Balloon Festival, serving as volunteer crew and then as a festival official for 15 years.

In 2002, he earned his pilot’s license and has been taking flight ever since. In 2015, Berry won first and second place in two competition targets and has won other balloon competitions over the years.

 

Keith Berry Highly Cool hot air balloon InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival

Festival attendees will recognize Berry’s balloon, Highly Cool, by the large Fox 4 News banner attached to the envelope during the festival weekend. Fox 4 News is a long-time sponsor of the Plano Balloon Festival. In addition to the banner, the envelope is marked by two horizontal black stripes creating three sections. The upper and lower sections are vertical rainbow stripes, while the middle section is filled with stair-stepped blocks of colors, creating a kaleidoscope effect when viewed from underneath. The 75 foot tall balloon has an air capacity of 90,000 cubic feet. When the balloon is in flight and seen from the ground, it’s hard to appreciate how big that really is. Compare it to an Olympic-sized swimming pool, which holds a similar of water.

 

Considering the size, it’s no wonder pilots need a team to get them off the ground. Berry now chooses his own crew and shares his knowledge with ballooning newcomers. Balloon crew volunteers are essential to a successful flight, helping to assemble, inflate, chase and pack up the balloon.

 

“I choose people who have a love and passion for ballooning, and just love to be part of the process,” he says.

 

Keith Berry Highly Cool hot air balloon InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival
Plano Balloon Festival

Berry flies as often as weather permits, usually 25 to 30 times a year.

“I try and make sure the weather and wind will be conducive for a good flight, but a few times it has made an unpredictable change,” says Berry. “I have had some ‘rougher’ landings, but nothing that was severe.”

 

Being suspended in a basket thousands of feet above the ground has its risks, but Berry minimizes them by planning ahead.

 

“I believe that being prepared for flying and keeping up with safety and sharing information with other pilots is key to being a good pilot,” he says. “Superstition has no place in flying and being safe.”

 

Berry and his family returned to Poplar Bluff, Missouri in 2015 after he retired from a career at AT&T. He returns to Plano each September to participate in the balloon festival.

 

The In Touch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival relies on hundreds of volunteers to lift off each year. Volunteers will have an opportunity to sign up later this spring to join a balloon crew for a hands-on experience assisting visiting pilots.