They say time flies when you’re having fun. It certainly must, because it’s been over 30 years since his first flight, and Michael Scott is still having fun. In October 1987, Scott and his family visited the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta while on vacation.
“We found a balloon that we had seen flying [back home] in Oklahoma City and crewed for them that week. My father got a short flight during that week, and he was bitten by the ballooning bug. We bought our first balloon about six weeks later,” recalls Scott.
“The feeling of moving with the wind is an awesome feeling. I try to fly whenever the weather allows; typically, that is about 60 times a year,” he continues.
Scott has enjoyed his share of adventures. In 1995, he made a 318-mile long-jump flight from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to Troy, Missouri. The goal of a long-jump flight is to fly as far as possible without stopping. He carried 90 gallons of fuel on board and flew for almost six hours.
Another time, he and three other pilots ascended to 17,600 feet in a balloon. That’s over three miles from the surface of the earth! None of them had ever been that high, so they decided to give it a try, and they were able to remain at maximum altitude for a few minutes.
“I have flown over 1,950 hours as pilot in command in 37 states and four countries,” Scott remembers, the most beautiful flight being over Saga, Japan.
However, Albuquerque long ago captured his heart. “Each place has its own special qualities. I would have to say Albuquerque, New Mexico, [is my favorite place to fly] because that is where it all started for my family,” says Scott.
“I have flown over 170 different balloons, including special shapes, corporate balloons, ride balloons, and now, [I fly] just for the fun of it!”
One of those balloons includes Spirit’s Rainbow, a beautiful, multi-colored sawtooth spiral, which actually belongs to Scott’s wife, Josie. Many pilots believe that their balloons are gendered, and Spirit’s Rainbow, according to Scott, is definitely a “she!” Spirit in the Sky, another of Scott’s balloons, is a “he,” and a third balloon, the Cheshire Cat, is a “she.”
Josie is an FAA Certified Repairman, as well as being the Practical Nursing program coordinator for a local school. Michael and Josie met at the 1995 Wake Up to Missouri US Nationals in Columbia, MO where Josie and her father Joe were assigned as crew. They married in 1999 and always accompanied on their travels with their long-haired dachshund Ladybug.
While every balloon pilot appreciates different aspects of the sport, Scott takes pleasure in “introducing people to ballooning that have never had the opportunity to be around balloons. You never know when that person you invite over to look at your basket or help pack up the envelope might be the next generation of balloonists.”
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“Bitten By The Ballooning Bug” written by Maridee Dietzel