SPECIAL SHAPE HOT AIR BALLOONS & PILOTS

Among the more than 50 hot air balloons at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival you’ll find a handful of special shapes that evoke love, joy, swashbuckling fun, and even make you meow.

 

Celebrating 40 Years of Ballooning in Plano, we proudly share these as the beloved special shapes and pilots participating in 2019.  And if you’d like to volunteer to get a hands-on experience with the balloons then sign-up for a shift with a hot air balloon crew. Volunteers help with inflation, lift-off, landings, the evening glow, and receive a free festival shirt.

BIMBO BEAR – PILOT:  JOHN PETREHN

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FESTIVAL PREVIEW & PHOTOGRAPHER BADGE DRAWING

The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival is going to inflate a hot air balloon in the parking lot at Central Market in Plano on Monday, August 19 from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.  We’re going to be giving away free general admission tickets to the festival so come by and see us!

 

If you’re really into food then you might get hypnotized by Hatch during Hatchsteria happening August 7-20! Central Market is featuring over 200 specialty Hatch-infused goodness around every corner within the store.

 

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PILOT STEVE JONES BALLOONING FOR 43 YEARS AROUND THE WORLD

You could say it was love at first flight. Steve Jones’ father attended the US National Balloon Championships in Indianola, Iowa, in 1976, working on a balloon crew and then riding in the balloon. He called Steve on his way home, raving about the experience and trying to convince Steve to partner with him and buy a balloon. Steve was certain that his dad had lost his mind; nevertheless, he consented and soon thereafter he was hooked on the experience. He earned his pilot’s license, a requirement for balloon piloting, and became a member of the ballooning community, enjoying the camaraderie and the competitions.

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BITTEN BY THE BALLOONING BUG

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.

 

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AN UNLIKELY PILOT – GUY GAUTHIER

An Unlikely Pilot – Guy Gauthier written by Maridee Dietzel

 

Guy Gauthier was terrified. Being afraid of heights, he realized that taking a ride in a hot air balloon may not have been his best idea. He survived, but as he walked away, Guy declared, “I’ll never buy one of those things!”

 

He and his six brothers would pursue ground-level sports. However, after competing in motorcycle racing for a number of years, the siblings were looking for a new, less messy sport that they could participate in and still be clean enough to be welcome in restaurants or even in their homes. Several more refined pastimes were mentioned, such as hang gliding, sailing, speedboating, and yes, even ballooning.

 

That was on a Sunday evening. On Wednesday, Guy received a call from one of his brothers, telling him, “We just bought a balloon, and your part is $3000.”

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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!

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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!”

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COMMERCIAL PILOT SCOTT VESELY MAKES RETURN FLIGHT BACK TO PLANO

By: Morgan Kosinski

 

The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival is thrilled to have the highly decorated, and equally charming, Scott Vesely return for what promises to be another epic flight.

At Dawn’s Early Light

A commercial balloon pilot since 1982, Vesely has been cruising the skies for decades.

 

Most recently, he led a team of twelve pilots at Dawn Patrol, a magical event at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

 

“There is nothing like flying Dawn Patrol in Albuquerque,” Vesely recalls wistfully, “We watch the sunrise over the Sandia Mountains and the traffic come onto the field. There is nothing like that type of flight.”

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PILOT JOSH GOLL & “STAR STEPPER”

Pilot Josh Goll and “Star Stepper” are among the 50 hot air balloons and pilots that came to the 2018 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. Even though they loaded up and made the trip with his family, the Festival was cancelled due to flooding. We’d like to show you his beautiful balloon and share his story.

 

Let’s reflect back to  to 2017 and his first time on the Festival field as a pilot. It is quiet on a Sunday morning. The air is still, and the only sound is the intermittent hiss of a propane burner. The number 16 balloon, Star Stepper, glides southwest over the launch field toward a target spray painted on the grass. The pilot, Josh Goll, gets within feet of the giant red X marking the spot. He tosses a bean bag at the target, and the watching crowd break the silence to cheer his win. Goll expertly piloted his balloon so close to the target at the Festival Fly-In Competition that a spectator might forget the breeze is in control of its direction.

 

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WANT TO WIN A RIDE IN A HOT AIR BALLOON?

We’ve given away tickets and parking passes over the years. In fact, there have been a lot of giveaways of t-shirts, posters, and festival items. This contest is for a private ride in a hot air balloon with a pilot here in Plano the week of the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival at Oak Point Park. We’re not talking about a tethered ride where you hover above the ground and descend within minutes. It’s a bucket list experience to lift-off and fly in a majestic invention that doesn’t have a steering wheel, motor or wheels. A truly unforgettable adventure that ends with a champagne toast and a prayer.

THE BALLOONIST’S PRAYER

“May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter
And sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.”
~Author Unknown

 

The contest began last month and ends on Monday, September 17 at 8:00 p.m. CST. The date of the flight will be determined by the pilot but scheduled to take place between September 19-23 depending of course, on the weather.  Must be 18 years or older to enter the Hootsuite based campaign that will randomly select the winner to be contacted and announced on Facebook and social media channels.  The terms and conditions are detailed within the contest form. Are you ready to take flight?