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.

 

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””

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”

TWENTY-YEAR VOLUNTEER REMEMBERS THE BEST OF THE PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL

In 1998, a hot air balloon came to rest on a quiet street in Murphy, TX. Trevor Laswell was only seven years old and this captured his attention. He expressed his interest in wanting to get involved with ballooning to the pilot, who referred him to crew training at the Plano balloon festival. That same year, Laswell took his first ride in a balloon with Suzanne and Don Smith in their balloon Hours Stars. Laswell’s father, Steve Laswell, was the festival’s volunteer coordinator at the time helped get the young Laswell involved.

 

Laswell has been involved with the Plano Balloon Festival for 20 years, most recently serving on the balloon operations team, which ensures the safety of the pilots and spectators and assists with all the details of the actual balloons. He’s come a long way since he was seven. Continue reading “TWENTY-YEAR VOLUNTEER REMEMBERS THE BEST OF THE PLANO BALLOON FESTIVAL”

PILOTS SEEK VOLUNTEERS TO CREW HOT AIR BALLOONS

Have you ever wanted to learn more about hot air balloons? We are recruiting folks to help crew for pilots for the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival the weekend of September 21-23, 2018. Volunteers will learn to help with setting up, inflating, launching, and packing up the hot air balloons after a flight during regularly scheduled balloon activities at the festival. There are two flights a day and the morning crew meets at 6:00 a.m. and finishes around 10:00 a.m. The evening crew begins at 4:00 p.m. and finish by 8:00 p.m. Breakfast is provided for the morning shift and dinner is provided after the evening shift.

Hands-on training is scheduled for 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 15 at Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas. In the event of rain, the training session will take place on the following day, September 16 at the same location.

Volunteers must sign-up in advance to crew for a shift and select a time slot.   https://www.planoballoonfest.org/p/getinvolved/volunteers

Follow the conversation on the Facebook event page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/293047234795238/

Continue reading “PILOTS SEEK VOLUNTEERS TO CREW HOT AIR BALLOONS”