A father-and-son hot-air balloon team from Binghamton, N.Y., Joel & David are pilots of “Mystical Breeze” and attend many balloon festivals in the United States and Canada. Dave Berka has been flying since 1979 and has trained many pilots, including his son.
Charles has had this marvelous sport of ballooning in his close knit family for over 35 years! Almost every weekend is a family get-together. So for him, ballooning is not just about going up and down, but rather a fancy way of creating a recurring family reunion. For this, he will be forever grateful!
Dwight is a resident of Munnsville, N.Y., and the pilot of “Paradise Island” balloon. Cramer's fascination with flying began in childhood; he went on his first balloon ride in 1992 and earned his commercial certificate in 1999. Cramer is well known for providing balloon rides over his hometown area and enjoys participating in balloon festivals throughout the northeast.
Kim first tried her hand as a Balloon Chase Crew member and becoming the pilot of her own balloon quickly became her next goal. Passing the final check-ride and holding her Commercial Pilot's License was worth the hard work involved. Sharing the joys of Ballooning continues to be a great reward for Kim.
She wishes to send a special thank you to her Ballooning family, "You are the Chosen Few."
Peter is a second generation balloon pilot and aviation enthusiast. Hot-air balloons came into Peter’s life at age 2 through his father, Jim. It was never a question of if Peter would become a pilot, but when. At age 14, Peter began his piloting journey and, 28 years later, hasn’t looked back. Peter’s flying experiences moved to heavier than air aircraft and after attending Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Peter pursued a career in Business aviation to support his ballooning habits.
In addition to Peter’s flying endeavors he has been involved with hot-air balloon event management and organization including The Syracuse Balloon Festival, Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally, and the Adirondack Balloon Festival.
Peter lives in Peachtree City, GA with his wife, Stacy, and kids who love to help with the balloons.
Scott, 38, is a second generation balloon pilot in the Albany area, and owner of Above All Balloon Rides. Scott’s father, Jim, started flying balloons in 1978 in Syracuse. Scott enjoys taking passengers for balloon rides throughout the summer and at festivals throughout upstate New York. Scott mostly enjoys telling balloon jokes during the flight to make passengers feel more at ease.
Rich is a Poughkeepsie resident and pilots “Rainbow with a View.” Along with his wife, Lori, and daughters, Sarah and Brittany, Rich has been involved in ballooning ever since he purchased a balloon ride for his wife's birthday many years ago. Since then, the family has attended festivals around the country and crewed for anyone who needed help. He holds a commercial pilot’s license and operates Adventure with Altitude Ballooning, LLC, in the Poughkeepsie area.
Roger & Michele 'Shelly' own and operate Hudson Valley Balloon Adventures in East Fishkill. Roger's first ballooning experience was taking a balloon ride at the Adirondack Balloon Festival in 1983 and he then received his commercial pilot rating in 1994. Shelly got the ballooning bug very young, taking her first balloon ride when she was 10 years old, is now Crew Chief. Roger and Michele enjoy flying the majestic Hudson Valley in their balloon "Limelite" with their daughter, Erin. When they are not ballooning or fishing, Roger is a Regional Sales Manager for Puratos Corporation, a Belgian manufacturer of fine chocolates and bakery ingredients in New Jersey and Michele is the Director of Operations at Barton Orchards in Poughquag and LaGrange.
Joyce has been flying balloons for more than 30 years, attending balloon events in 13 states, Canada, France, and in the Alps in Austria. She was a volunteer pilot for the Great Eastern Balloon Camp in 2015 and is a past President of the Great Eastern Balloon Association.
Joyce and her crew, Ryan and Dawn Hulvat from Bethlehem, PA, greatly appreciate the generous hospitality of landowners and respect the importance of farms and the dedication of those who work them.
Ken flies the world's largest Tuxedo at hot-air balloon festivals throughout the northeast, Canada, and central New Jersey. He is a member of the Balloon Federation of America, the Great Eastern Balloon Association, and has been the recipient of GEBA's Ted Torok Award for Sportsmanship in Ballooning, as well as being Number One in competition in 2006. Not 'SirPrizingly,' Ken's crew includes his wife, Janet, their kids, Adam and Katie, and their Crew-Chief-Chef, Vince Downey. Many other family and friends (including John, Rosey, Courtney, Patty, David, Linda, Scott, Cynthia, Karen, Mark, many others) are also part of the "Sir Prize!" Team (and of course, Ann, Carl, & Vickie are always with us, too!) helping to share the uplifting experience of ballooning with all.
Todd’s infectious enthusiasm for the sport of ballooning took shape as a youngster, chasing down balloons on his bike during the early years of the Adirondack Balloon Festival. A few years after graduating from SUNY Oswego, he decided to pursue his ballooning dreams and began SunKiss Ballooning. His principal training took place in Albuquerque, NM, site of the world’s largest balloon festival. His team understands the importance of ongoing training and professional development. He’s also in constant contact with pilots around the world about the latest in balloon technology, safety concerns, and more. He’s worked with professional pilots in teaching safety seminars approved by the FAA. He’s eager to share his love of ballooning by providing a safe, exciting, captivating, and memorable ballooning experience for you!
John has been flying balloons since 1993. When asked why he got into ballooning he always responds, “I’ve been trying to get off this planet all my life.” John's wife, Kate, is his regular crew chief. When not ballooning, John works with the Macy’s Parade Studio designing and producing floats, props, costumes and giant inflatables for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He has worked on 36 parades and has taken his 'helium friends' all around the country and as far away as London, Tokyo, and Doha.
Mike is a commercial hot-air balloon pilot and also holds a FAA Repairman’s Certificate working under Hudson Valley Balloon Port, which is owned and operated by his good friend, Russ Barber. Mike has been flying since 1999 and operates Catskill Mountain Balloon, Inc. with flights out of Columbia County Airport in Hudson, as well as Oneonta, Cooperstown and many festivals throughout the year. He has flown throughout New York, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Canada, and Japan. Mike takes every opportunity that Mother Nature allows to fly with the rising and setting of the sun.
Scott has been around hot-air balloons since the age of two. Once old enough, he began crewing, and then started pilot training in 1994. Scott received his Private FAA License in 1998, and then his Commercial FAA License in 2001. He and his brother, Tony, founded Endless Mountains Hot Air Balloons, Inc. in March of 2003. In 2005, the company expanded to fly passengers in both northeastern and southeastern Pennsylvania. Scott has crewed for and flown balloons throughout the United States and Mexico, including flying the Corn Palace Balloon Club special shapes and the Liberty Bell special shape. His company is also the proud new owner of Pea-Nut the Flying Elephant special shape balloon.
Carroll started his aviation career as a Naval Aviator, flying P-3s during Vietnam. Leaving the Navy, he operated a small airport, giving airplane flight instruction, with ballooning as a sideline. Since 1978, he has been a full-time balloonist. He has taught Balloon Pilot Ground Schools and given balloon assembly programs at public schools in nearly every state in the USA. A couple of years ago, he passed 4,000 hours of balloon flight time. His primary activity in ballooning, now, is conducting the balloon promotional programs for RE/MAX of New York. Carroll says the most rewarding part of his balloon experience is sharing ballooning with his children, Lance, Lisa, Liana and Lee, and, since Lance’s son, Jacob, is taking flying lessons, they are a three-generation balloon family.
Sylvain is one of the balloonmeisters of the International Balloon Festival of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu since 2014. He has been a part of the ballooning world since 1995, where he has participated as a crew member in many tethered events and flights. Sylvain has been a licensed pilot since 1995, and he has had the opportunity to fly in numerous ballooning events across Canada and United States, such as the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.
The Roamin’ Candle Balloon Team is comprised of family and friends of all ages and has truly made ballooning a team sport. Their favorite part of ballooning is introducing the sport to newcomers and sharing in the excitement of lighter-than-air flight. Peter and Jennifer Turoff have been flying Roamin’ Candle since 1995. They live in LaGrangeville. A former skydiver of 15 years with 501 jumps, Peter loves the exhilaration of being airborne and shares his passion for flying with his family.
Bob has always been fascinated by flight. He is amazed by the variety of flying insects and birds that God created. So, he’s pleased that through simple physics, he can fly, too! He loves the peaceful serenity of a balloon flight in the cool, early morning. He loves the evening flights as the sun is lowering on the horizon. He has had his private license for airplanes since 1979. He obtained his commercial ballooning license in the spring of 1990 and has logged over 2,300 hours of flight time.
He enjoys tethering at balloon events because it introduces the magic of ballooning to so many people! Come, give it a try!