Sixteen Hot Air Balloons from all over the USA and Canada! The balloons will launch early in the morning and will fire up at night for a spectacular nighttime show!

Schedule (balloon events are weather permitting):

  • 6:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. - Balloon Launches - Saturday, Sunday and Monday - Soccer Field
  • 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. - Balloon Glows - Saturday and Sunday - Soccer Field
  • 8:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m. - Abbey Glow - Saturday and Sunday - best viewing is on the east side of the Abbey

Dave Bair and Bairly Awake

Dave has been involved in ballooning since the late 1970’s and owned his first balloon with his brother, John, in 1990. He has been active ever since. It has been a family affair for him and his wife, Jessica, and two kids, Erin and Andrew. Dave grew up in Albuquerque and was involved with the Fiesta as passenger, pilot, and volunteer. His introduction to ballooning was primarily through his parents, Ray and Carol, and crewing at Fiesta.

Dave is commercially rated for both hot air and gas balloons. He got his hot air private certificate in 1989, commercial in 1991 and the gas rating in 2003. The gas rating came from a trip to Germany to learn from world record holder, Wilhelm Eimers. Dave continues to fly as a hobby, for commercial advertising, and as a flight instructor in Colorado Springs.

Dave has served in the Gas Ballooning world for several years as a participant and then director of the Gas Command Center for AIBF. This included running the command center for five years, including two Gordon Bennett races held in Albuquerque. During this time, the command center increased its ability to track and communicate the balloon’s position during the race. This encouraged more competitive knowledge as well as a much stronger spectator involvement.

Dave has an interest in competitive flying and has participated in several BFA sanctioned events as pilot, crew, and observer. BFA event participation includes the New Mexico State Championships, Balunar Liftoff in Houston, National Team Championships in Battle Creek, and several others.

He has over 700 flight hours in hot air and gas balloons and has flown throughout the United States and foreign countries. His most exciting gas flight was a hydrogen balloon flight over the Alps from Sonthofen, Germany to just southwest of Venice, Italy. One of his favorite hot air experiences has been flying special shapes around the US, including shapes like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Castle in the Sky, Sunny Boy, and Miss Daisy. He and the family have flown in Ireland, Germany, France, Great Britain, Netherlands, and Belgium as well.

Don Dougherty and Dark Sunrise

Don was about 12 when he saw his first balloon and he was smitten.  Don has been passionate about ballooning ever since.  Don has been the proud owner of three balloons, High Ho, Suzie Q and now Dark Sunrise.  Don attends many balloon events over the course of the year and he always flies Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta!  He doesn’t admit it much but he knows Barbi Hann’s balloon is just as pretty as his! 

Don loves to costume up!  Any time there’s an event with a costume required be prepared for a sight like no other! He’s been a German beer wench, (he thinks he was a ‘renaissance’ woman) Batman, and Waldo just to name a few. 

Don was recently married to his BFF Jen and they have a daughter Eddi.  Don is teaching Eddi to fly balloons also and Eddi soloed just after her 13th birthday!  Ballooning will live on in the Dougherty house!

Ron Fincham and Zephyr

See Ron Fincham and Zephyr at the Canon City Baloon Classic!

Jason Gabriel and Spirit of 76

Jason Gabriel took his first balloon ride at age 7 in Colorado Springs, and has been flying since then. He earned his balloon pilot certificate in Albuquerque in 2014 and enjoys flying in the Rio Grande Valley of New Mexico and the Front Range of Colorado. Jason is currently serving on active duty in the US Air Force, working as a satellite engineer at Buckley Air Force Base in Denver. The Spirit of '76 crew is made up of military, veterans, and American patriots who regularly fly at events supporting military families and veterans organizations.

Martin Hill and Big Top

Martin is rated as a commercial single & multi engine pilot with  instrument airplane ratings.  He flies his Mooney to go fast, and his Piper Super Cub for recreation.

He is a member of the FAA FAAST Team (Formerly Safety Counselors)  and has worked as  banner tow pilot.  Martin owns a retail insurance agency and sells most kinds of insurance, including aircraft insurance.

Martin is a frequent speaker on the subjects of aviation insurance coverages, pilotage, meteorology, the Code of Federal Aviation Regulations  and related subjects at safety seminars and club meetings in Colorado and Wyoming.

Martin has been Balloonmeister or Safety Officer at numerous events in several Western states, and competed 3 years in the US National Championships.  He was Safety Officer at the National Balloon Classic in Indianola, Iowa, and was awarded the Elizabeth Domont Trophy at the U.S. Nationals in 1986.  Martin was the Colorado Balloon Club Don Ida award winner in 1998:  His favorite balloon activity is conducting tethers at schools for RE/MAX.

Skip Howes

See Skip Howes and Wildfire at the Canon City Balloon Classic!

Colleen Johnson and Mary Alice in Wonderland

I have been a pilot for 10 years. I received my commercial rating in 2009 and taught my husband, Mike Johnson to fly. My first Balloon Fiesta was in 2008. My dream came true as I floated across the launch field watching 500+ balloons either in the process of taking off or flying in the air. I was flying my own balloon! My husband and I fly in many different ballooning events all over the United States and Mexico. We love to fly and teach children about hot air ballooning. I am the Balloon Meister for several ballooning events throughout the year. Those events include; Snowmass, CO in September, Scottsbluff, NE on Labor Day Weekend, and Erie, CO in May.  My goal is to fly in Europe next summer.

Mike Johnson and Sky Trek

I am a dedicated passionate balloon pilot that was trained by my wife!  Let me say that again,…..My wife trained my to fly balloons!  I enjoyed it and found it to be a wonderful experience!  I have flown over Pikes Peak in a once in a lifetime group flyover back in 2014.   It’s one of the most uneventful but beautiful flights I have ever made at 18000MSL with oxygen!

Fred Lété and Twisted

Fred Lété began his love of ballooning in 1973 when he attended the 3rd Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.  His first balloon ride led him to become an active crew member until he obtained his license in 1990.  He is a flight instructor and owner/operator of the balloon TWISTED.

Fred is a member of the local Albuquerque balloon club, the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association, where he has supported numerous committees over the years.  Since the early 1980’s he has volunteered at the Balloon Fiesta, working a variety of areas such as field setup, hospitality, and most recently radio communications for the Gas Race.  He loves to fly in rallies around the southwest and is one of only three pilots to have ever flown in Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona.

Fred is a collector of Lawn Gnomes.  He usually picks one up at every rally he flies in!  Fred states his favorite Lawn Gnome uses the wheelbarrow!  It reminds him of his crew packing up the balloon!

Johnny Nash and Doubloon con Negro

Johnny started ballooning in 1986.  His first experience was seeing a balloon fly past the home he was building and became intrigued.  Later that year he attended the Colorado Balloon Classic.  While watching the balloons the first day he and his wife Linda decided to chase the balloons the second day to see where they landed.  Upon landing he asked the pilot if he needed packing up and of course the pilot said yes.  Johnny started chasing balloons and crewing for a couple of different balloonists.  In October while crewing for a balloon another pilot needed crew so he crewed for that balloon.  The rest is history.  His first balloon was delivered February, 1987.  He then took instruction from two balloon pilots and received his Private Certificate later that year.  Johnny purchased his second balloon in 1997,  Doubloon con negro. Johnny has flown 21 years for the same sponsor in the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival.  He has also flown in many parts of Colorado, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, New Mexico and Leon, Mexico.  One of the greatest flights Johnny has flown was in Dayton, Ohio, where he flew off the same runway as his Father flew from many years ago.

Raul Oliva

Raul Oliva has been flying airplanes for over 25 years and balloons for the last 10. His day job is as a school counselor, so Raul says flying helps him by using different parts of his brain. He is married and has a grown daughter and lots of critters. He and his wife live in Hotchkiss and love the rural life. The best part of ballooning for Raul is sharing the sport with first timers and with children.

Dave Providence

Cheryl and I went to the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in 1994 with friends from Tucson, AZ.  While viewing the thrill of the balloons flying, we decided that our lives had reached a point where we could start living for ourselves a little.  When we went home to Indiana I made a few phone calls and found an instructor.  Little did I know that I’d contacted a bunch of new best friends.  Being a commercial pilot flying airplanes for a living allowed me to train and test directly for my commercial balloon pilot certificate. The next October we purchased our first balloon.  In 1998 we moved to the Denver area and have been flying at festivals and in locals mostly in the southwest area of the US ever since.

Steve Scheer

See Steve Scheer and Laffy Taffy at the Canon City Balloon Classic!

Nolan Schuler and Bella Sole

Nolan Schuler is retired from the United States Air Force as Space System Operator. He began ballooning in 1998 with his first ride at Albuquerque Inter National Balloon Fiesta. After retiring from the in 2006 Air Force he bought his first balloon in January 2008 and attained private certificate 1 June. He has flown in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Colorado Balloon Classic, Steam Boat, Snow Mass and 1st annual Create Canon City Balloon Classic To name a few.

Jon Seay and Western Spirit

Jon Seay is a retired volunteer firefighter with 27 years of serving Englewood and Sheridan as a firefighter, deputy chief and communications officer.

This Colorado native began his career as a lineman for Mountain Bell and started his own business, Communications Leasing Corp in 1971.  He developed the two-way radio and paging business into one of the largest in Colorado prior to it’s sale to Nextel in 1989.  Today, as President of J.T.S. Services, he owns and manages commercial real estate.

Jon began his love of ballooning through working with Chauncey Dunn in the late 1970’s while providing radios for Chauncey’s high altitude record setting flight.  He purchased the Carousel balloon and obtained his commercial pilot’s license in 1984.  He has flown over 650 flights in the US, Canada, Mexico and Switzerland.  He was part of a three man team that piloted a gas balloon out of Stechelberg, Switzerland in the Fred Dolder Gas Balloon Race across the Alps.  He is a member of the CBC, BFA and British Balloon & Airship Club.  He currently owns and pilots the Western Spirit and Big Top balloons.

Lu Toxvard and Pepsi Won

Lu began flying airplanes back in the mid 80s. Then while attending a balloon rally in 2010 Lu and his wife Tammy fell in love with aviation all over again. The couple soon began crewing for a commercial balloon company and 10 months later Lu had his private Balloon rating. Lu and Tammy live in Longmont Colorado, and they feel one of the best parts of ballooning is all the amazing people.

Shannon White and Mountain Breeze

Pilot Shannon White from Loveland, Colorado USA, has been flying hot air balloons since 1990. This is Shannon’s 25th year flying. Shannon enjoys mountain flying in the Western United States including Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho and Montana. He has also flown Old Mexico for 8 yrs and in Bogota, Columbia’s first and last Hot Air Balloon event! When Shannon isn’t flying you may see him spending time with his family and riding horses.

Mark Whiting and Sunshine Comes Softly

Since 1978, at RE/MAX Headquarters the pilot eagerly announced “the 1st ever balloon is here”. We went to a vacant field along I-25 at Belleview in the Denver Tech Center and I got mud up to my “you know what” during inflation. I have been positively hooked since that wondrous day!

The “control” challenge of flying a Balloon is my lure, however, truth be spoken, it warms my heart & I adore the reaction from spectators and children when we “put on a show”. Honestly, I fly for the kids and their unfettered joy. (Yes, that includes the adult children, too!)

As the Pilot/Co-pilot for a large corporate account, U S West, for 9 years, our Cowboy & Indian Balloon was called “Western Spirit”. Traveling coast-to-coast & internationally, we met fabulous people everywhere! The ‘Press’ was with us daily sharing our experiences, expecting us to be corporate ambassadors for U S West and Ballooning! The enthusiasm of Ballooning is infectious…… Please, come and share this delightful, Gentle-Giant, sport with me!

Buoyant Regards!