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.

 

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.”

 

The AIBF explains, “The Dawn Patrol began at Balloon Fiesta in 1978, when two California balloonists developed position lighting systems that allowed them to fly at night. Dawn Patrol pilots take off in the dark and fly until it is light enough to see landing sites. Fellow balloonists appreciate the Dawn Patrol because they can watch the balloons and get an early idea of wind speeds and directions at different altitudes. On mass ascension days, about a dozen Dawn Patrol balloons perform the Dawn Patrol Show, a choreographed inflation and launch set to music that has been part of the Balloon Fiesta since 1996. Dawn Patrol inflations begin, weather permitting, at about 5:45 AM, with launch around 6:00 AM.”

 

Scott Vesely with Miss Texas inside his hot air balloon at the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.
Scott Vesely with Miss Texas inside his hot air balloon at the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.
A Family Affair

Ballooning also runs in the family. Kim Vesely shares her son’s passion for the unique sport, and collaborated on two popular books regarding the popular pastime:  “Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta” and Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and “The World Comes to Albuquerque — The Dream Takes Flight.”

Ready for Take-Off

 

“There is nothing that can compare to flying in the air,” Scott praises, “All the sites, sounds, and smells, all enhance the flying pleasure.”

Now a resident of Wylie, he is looking forward to flying the InTouch Credit Union balloon, (a 120,000 Lindstrand Regular Shaped balloon) at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival, and that’s not just a lot of hot air.

InTouch Credit Union Hot Air Balloon
InTouch Credit Union Hot Air Balloon photo credit Michael Nguyen taken in 2017.

Keep your eye on the skies during the launch, competition, and crowd favorite, the balloon glow, for Vesely and his team at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.

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.

 

Continue reading “PILOT JOSH GOLL & “STAR STEPPER””

CHARITABLE SPIRITS LIFT UP THE PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL

Throughout the 39 years of producing this annual tradition within North Texas, the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. has never experienced such a devastating loss.  The Festival is not a large corporate entity, but rather a 501(c)3 non-profit organization led by 13 Board of Directors. The sadness, and significant economic loss, is shared with the 58 local non-profits, 75 vendors, dozens of sponsors, pilots, crew, and more than 5,000 volunteers who were committed to the event.

 

The Festival mission is to produce a family-oriented ballooning event to benefit the community. The objective is to also offer other non-profits an opportunity to assist with the operations of the Festival and raise funds. These agencies work the gates, parking lots, kids fun zone and the races. For their services these non-profits are compensated a portion of the revenue. However, this year they earned no money to apply towards their impactful programs within the community.

Continue reading “CHARITABLE SPIRITS LIFT UP THE PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL”

SUNNYDAZE AHEAD FOR PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL RACES

In the 39 years of producing the beloved Plano Balloon Festival, we have steadfastly measured success on two fronts – the number of people we are able to wow with the beauty of hot air balloons, and the dollars raised by the non-profits who rely on the success of the festival to meet their annual fundraising goals. Sadly, mother nature took it upon herself to intervene, and 2018 will not go down as a banner year on either front.

 

A three-day outdoor festival in Texas is a wildly ambitious endeavor, but we are not deterred.  Our mission is to provide nonprofit agencies an opportunity to raise funds and awareness for their programs and services, which ultimately enhances the quality of life for all North Texans.  The Festival has circulated more than 3 million dollars back into the Collin County and Plano community.  Supporters and friends of the Festival, people like you, choose to give through corporate sponsorship, ticket purchase or race participation so we can hold true to our mission year-after-year.

 

Continue reading “SUNNYDAZE AHEAD FOR PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL RACES”

PEANUT BUTTER DONATIONS SPREAD HOPE IN COLLIN COUNTY

The Plano Balloon Festival, Inc. has partnered with the North Texas Food Bank and the City of Plano in the 5th Annual Plano Peanut Butter Drive and will accept donations at the 2018 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. The festival is September 21-23 at Oak Point Park in Plano and collection boxes will be on-site throughout the weekend.

 

“We invite our attendees to donate a plastic, 16 oz. jar of peanut butter to help us reach this year’s ambitious goal of collecting 50,000 pounds to help feed our hungry neighbors,” says Jo Via, Executive Director of the Plano Balloon Festival, Inc.

 

Food insecurity often goes unseen but affects 16% of the people in Collin County and one of every four children across North Texas. By raising awareness about this need and, more importantly, giving people in the community an opportunity to meet the need, the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival helps to make Plano better for everyone. Peanut butter collected in this drive will be distributed to hungry families in Collin County and the 13 counties served by the NTFB.

Continue reading “PEANUT BUTTER DONATIONS SPREAD HOPE IN COLLIN COUNTY”

CELEBRATION EVENT CENTER HOSTING PILOTS & CREW

The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival began in 1980 in the City of Plano, and new for 2018 is a spacious location to set-up balloon operations headquarters.  More than 50 hot air balloon pilots and hundreds of crew members will be hosted by Celebration Event Center located at the Northwest corner of Custer Road and Park Blvd.

 

“The pilots and balloon crew members will be extremely excited and wowed by the amazing Celebration Event Center and Ballroom.  In the 39 years of Plano Balloon Festival pilot and crew functions, this facility is offering the very best place for their gatherings,” states Jo Via, Executive Director for the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival.

 

The three-day festival weekend is September 21-23 and the majority of the 10,000 square ft facility, including the Large Ballroom, is to be used exclusively by pilots and crew. There are a few regularly scheduled classes that will continue in rooms located within the building such as Zumba, Martial Arts, and Bollywood Dance.

Continue reading “CELEBRATION EVENT CENTER HOSTING PILOTS & CREW”

CAMP GLADIATOR PARTNERS WITH PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL RACES

Camp Gladiator has partnered with the Plano Balloon Festival Races to help runners when they pick-up race packets on September 15 and 16 at Academy Sports and Outdoors at 4045 N. Central Expressway in Plano. Runners who are already registered for the Plano Balloon Festival Races can pick-up race packets from Camp Gladiator representatives between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm.

 

There is no race day registration or packet pick-up.  Additional packet dates are as follows:

Thursday, Sept 20 – 2:00 PM to 7:00 PM
Friday, Sept 21 – 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Saturday, Sept 22 – 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Plano Event Center, Spring Glade Room, 2000 E. Spring Creek Parkway, Plano, TX 75074

 

Camp Gladiators will work alongside the Plano Balloon Festival Races to promote health, fitness and being outdoors. Camp Gladiator is a four-week outdoor group fitness program. Each workout or “Camp” is a 60 minute, full-body workout incorporating both cardio and strength training.  The mission of Camp Gladiator is to positively impact the physical fitness and ultimately the lives of as many people as possible.

Camp Gladiator Members In Training Session in Plano, Texas
Camp Gladiator Members In Training Session in Plano, Texas

“Exercising outside has so many benefits to exercising inside. When you’re outside, your body is having to work with so many external elements – temperature, wind, dynamic surfaces, etc.,”says Camp Gladiator partner trainer Becky Leverett. “When you challenge your body with an unstable environment, your muscles and brain are constantly having to react and re-adjust which makes it hard for the body and brain to ever become complacent and bored.”

Runners and walkers of every fitness level will have the opportunity to connect with nature, get some fresh air, and see the soaring balloons festival weekend. The 1K fun run and 5k are on Saturday, September 22 and the 10k and Half Marathon run on Sunday, September 23. Registration is online only. Camp Gladiator trainers are prepared to lead the pre-run warm-ups both days, and be on site all weekend at the festival to connect with the Plano community and encourage active lifestyles.

CG Logo

“Our bodies are capable of so much more than we give it credit for,” says Leverett. “I challenge every person to step outside of their comfort zone and run that race or attend a camp.”

 

Camp Gladiator is the largest adult outdoor fitness program in the Nation and DFW Metroplex.  Those ready for more outdoor fitness opportunities can find more than 50 Plano-area Camp Gladiator programs at CampGladiator.com for all local camps or connect with Leverett via email beckyleverett@campgladiator.com with any questions.

 

 

General registration for the Plano Balloon Festival Races ends August 31 and online registration for the Challenges closes at Noon on Friday, September 21 and the Half Marathon and 10K race registration closes at Noon on Saturday, September 22.    The InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival is a three day weekend starting September 21 and continuing until Sunday, September 23, 2018 at Oak Point Park in Plano, TX. Advance tickets are available online at www.planoballoonfest.org or at participating InTouch Credit Union locations starting September 1.   #PBFRaces #PlanoBalloon

HOT AIR BALLOON TETHERED RIDES AT INTOUCH CREDIT UNION PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL

Tethered rides at InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival (photo credit: David Downs Photography)
Tethered rides at InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival (photo credit: David Downs Photography)

Live life in color and take a tethered ride in a hot air balloon at the 2017 InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival that will be the weekend of September 22-24 at Oak Point Park. A tethered ride is when the hot air balloon lifts up and off the ground, it then hovers 20-30 feet above the field for several minutes, but the balloon won’t launch or fly away into the sky. This is a unique opportunity to experience the sensation of being in a hot air balloon with a licensed pilot. Continue reading “HOT AIR BALLOON TETHERED RIDES AT INTOUCH CREDIT UNION PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL”

RaceJoy Mobile App Includes Live Tracking & Alerts During Plano Balloon Festival Races

Free Live Tracking and Progress Alerts on Race Day

Main page of RaceJoy app
Main page of RaceJoy app

The Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, Relay, 5K and 1K is sponsoring RaceJoy to provide participants and spectators these features for free (normally a 99 cents upgrade fee for both the participant and spectator). September 23-24, 2017 the PBF Races will be held at Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas the weekend of the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. General registration ends 9/16 and all race courses and run information is detailed on the website: www.pbfraces.org. #PBFRaces

Download the RaceJoy mobile app for live phone tracking at the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, Relay, 5K and 1K. The RaceJoy app is available on Apple and Android devices. All participating runners must turn disable WiFi settings on race day or the tracking will disengage.

Continue reading “RaceJoy Mobile App Includes Live Tracking & Alerts During Plano Balloon Festival Races”