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About that pilot...

aer·o·naut  (âr′ə-nôt′) n. A pilot or navigator of a lighter-than-air craft, such as a balloon.

                                                                                                - Webster's Dictionary

As a child, I spotted my first balloon on a cold Indiana winter day on our way to grandmas house. The snow was bright, the air was crisp. We followed him for a short while until he settled behind a barn on farm out in the country. I never forgot that day.

Later, as a youth I found myself spending weekends at the airport as my mother pursued her hobby: skydiving. I was packing parachutes at 14 and taken a few rides to 5,000 feet as the jumpers exit the Cessna 182. AS a teen I attended the USPA National Championships, as a spectator and later on crew, refueling the bigger planes and getting a ride on a Douglas DC-3.

College led me to Navy ROTC and the beginning of travel adventures. Met a great uncle in California who was a career aviator. Also learned about a distant cousin who flew bush planes in Alaska. Then the movie Top Gun was released and I went into Naval Aviation. While in flight school, picked up civilian FAA ratings for private single engine and multi engine after which I chose a crew aircraft of little notoriety, the S-3 Viking, in which I logged over 1,000 hours and flew all over the world.

Only later in life did I pursue a hot air balloon flight. Just a single flight. Even with Google, it was difficult to meet a local balloon operator. But eventually I found a club, the Carolina Balloon Association, took a ground school, attended safety seminars and collaborated with a pilot to get my training started. Learned a few things about the business, the history and finished out the Commercial certificate, mostly so I could give rides for some charities and non-profits, specifically for churches, the disabled, and veterans.

We relocated to NC to be near family and continue to share this gift of flight with others.

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