MORNING BALLOON LAUNCHES
6:30 AM - Thursday, July 2 - Sunday, July 5
The 6:30 AM Balloon Launches will take place from various locations throughout the City and/or County. The off-site balloon launch sites will depend on the wind directions at the time and will not be announced, to avoid excessive traffic back-up and accidents caused by driving spectators.
EVENING BALLOON LAUNCHES or FLY-INS
7:00 PM Wednesday, July 1 - Saturday, July 4
All evening Balloon Launches or Fly-Ins are scheduled around 7:00 PM and will take place at the W.K. Kellogg Airport. Join us on the festival grounds to get the best view point of the evening flights.
Special NOTE: All scheduled activities/events are “WEATHER PERMITTING”. Balloon Flights are scheduled to take place most days around 6:30 AM and 7:00 PM. There will be no morning balloon launch on Wednesday, July 1 and there will be not evening balloon launch on Sunday, July 5. The 6:30 AM Balloon Launches will take place from various locations throughout the City and/or County. The off-site balloon launch sites will depend on the wind directions at the time and will not be announced, to avoid excessive traffic back-up and accidents caused by driving spectators. All evening Balloon Launches or Fly-Ins are scheduled around 7:00 PM and are best viewed on the festival grounds at the W.K. Kellogg Airport. NO RAIN CHECKS OR REFUNDS.
- Adams, Jason; Ontario, Canada
- Bousselot, Matt - Marion, IA
- Campbell, Craig - Springfield, MI
- Cliver, Christopher - Lewisville, TX
- Cliver, Harold “Bubba” - Lewisville, TX
- Coan, Larry - Livonia, MI
- Cook, Deven - Battle Creek, MI
- Foelske, Aaron - Channahon, IL
- Fujita, Yudai; Tochigi, Japan
- Gaines, Jason - O’Fallon, MO
- Gauthier, Guy - Longview, TX
- Gibbons, John - Mount Morris, MI
- Groce, Ron - Mason, MI
- Heavin, Brandon - Moody, TX
- Heavin, Gary - Waco, TX
- Jaques, Dave - Venice, FL
- Jaques, Tyler - Battle Creek, MI
- Kamp, Kevin - Marion, IA
- Kerber, Rick - Wayland, MI
- King, Jeremy - Indianola, IA
- Mitchell, Steve - Streetsboro, OH
- Moore, Michael - Augusta, MI
- Nelson, Mike - Fortville, IN
- Parr, Richard - Pittsboro, NC
- Peck, Stephen - Battle Creek, MI
- Pestun, Jeff - Zeeland, MI
- Petrehn, Johnny - Missouri City, TX
- Raya, Shawn - Oxford, MI
- Reinert, Chris - Alta, IA
- Reusch, Dan - Peoria, IL
- Ricke, Tom - Clive, IA
- Rolfe, Pat - Battle Creek, MI
- Ross, John - Appleton, WI
- Roush, Tom - Tallassee, TN
- Rubin, Jeremy - Ankeny, IA
- Skelton, Meg - Castle Rock, CO
- Smart, Chris - Hunting, IN
- Stamats, Susan - Cedar Rapids, IA
- Walz, Chuck - Munith, MI
- Wilson, Dale - Augusta, MI
- Zvada, Joe - McAllen, TX
*Note: Balloon Names, Balloon Pictures and Balloon Pilot Bios will be posted soon for those participating this year. Pilots, please submit your balloon picture, head shot and pilot bio to Barb Haluszka.
Jason Adams is from Ontario, Canada and will be returning this year flying in the Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition in his 2 Kichaa Balloon. Kichaa means insane or crazy in Swahili. He has logged over 2159 pilot-in-command hours and has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 1993. Jason is also a professional hot-air balloon pilot. He flies balloons all over the world and holds licenses in 5 countries. He has attended Field of Flight twice before finishing #11 in 2014 and #14 in 2012 at the Battle Creek Event. He is also a former Canadian Champion.
Matt Bousselot is from Marion, Iowa. He is excited to be a first time Battle Creek participant and a first year HACD card holder. Fascinated with flying his entire life, and having a little prior fixed wing experience, he obtained his LTA license in 2012. Today he flies balloon passenger rides in the Cedar Rapids, lA area and is employed as an engineer designing GPS and navigation systems. Joining Matt on his ballooning adventures are his household crew, including his wife Anne and two kids, Tyler & Laila.
Craig Campbell is from right here in Springfield, Michigan.He has been flying since 2000 and has owned his Hot Ziggity Balloon since 2010. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2013 and has flown in multiple events. He loves enjoying this wonderful sport with his beautiful wife and Crew Chief, Mindy Campbell and their 3 daughters. He loves this sport so much because of the excitement he sees on the kids' faces when he flies.
Christopher Cliver is from Lewisville, Texas. He grew up crewing for his dad, Harold "Bubba" Cliver, and was given an older balloon upon graduation from Texas A&M University in May 2013. He was taught ballooning by his dad and got his rating in May 2014, with 12 hours total time. Christopher flew his first competition event 2 weeks later and finished 13th at the Southwest Regionals. He flew in 5 more events in 2014. He was Newcomer of the Year in Indianola, IA and awarded the BFA highest ranked Rookie for 2014.
His balloon is being made for late April/May delivery and will be published, along with his balloon name at that time.
Harold "Bubba" Cliver is from Lewisville Texas. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 1987 and has over 1480 pilot-in-command hours. When he's not ballooning for pleasure or competition, he is a professional pilot.
Bubba is returning for his 7th year to compete in the Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition. He'll be flying his balloon called Bubbaballoon, pictured here.
Bubba placed #9 in the 2013 Hot-Air Balloon Competition.
Larry Coan is from Livonia, Michigan. He is an engineer for the Ford Motor Company. He is married to his wife Amy and together they have two children, Teri and Robin.
Larry received a hot-air balloon ride for his 27th birthday and was hooked. The rest is history. He has been a balloon pilot since 2005 with over 250 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon.
The name of his balloon is "Superfluous", pronounced su·PER-flu·ous, which means being more than is sufficient or required; excessive. This will be his 8th year participating in the event. Larry's crew chief is Jonny Hodge, who grew up in the sport because his dad was a pilot since he was a baby.
Larry placed #4 in the 2011 hot-air balloon competition.
Battle Creek, Michigan's own Deven Cook will be participating in this year's Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition with his Even Higher balloon. He has been around hot-air ballooning since the early 1970's and crewed for many pilots across the country. He became a licensed hot-air balloon pilot in 2009 and now has a commercial rating. He is the operator and owner of Winds of Freedom Hot Air Ballooning in Battle Creek.
He is an Air Force Veteran and is employed as a Cyber Security Officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs at the VA Medical Center in Battle Creek. Deven and his wife Lindsey have 4 kids, Elizabeth, Gabby, D.J., and Abigail (pictured with daddy).
Aaron Foelske is from Channonhon, Illinois will be flying in the Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition in his balloon called The Hummingbird Balloon. In previous years he flew his balloon called Basket Case. He has logged over 330 pilot-in-command hours and has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2002. When Aaron is not flying his balloon, he is an Engineer for Nicor Gas.
Yudai Fujita will be returning all the way from Tochigi, Japan and will be flying Paul Petrehn's balloon, Shutter, in this year's Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition.
When he was 16, he started training for flight and at age 18 he became a pilot. He has been a pilot since 2005 and has over 500 pilot-in-command hours.
Yudai placed #7 in 2014 and #12 in the 2013 Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.
Jason Gaines will be flying his hot-air balloon called "Cheaper Than A Wife" in the 2015 Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival. No photo of pilot has been submitted.
It has been 37 years since Guy Gauthier purchased his first hot-air balloon. Within a year Gauthier began competing on the Kool Pro Balloon Tour and found his love of balloon competition. He has since competed in National and International championships, has toured as a commercial balloon pilot, has taught others to fly, served as a Designated Balloon Examiner, sold balloons, designed and built hot-air balloons, and repaired balloons at his Certified Repair Station, Balloon Repairs of East Texas (BRET). He has been able to fly balloons in many different parts of the world, such as Morocco, Kenya, Europe, Japan and Mexico.
Guy’s technical expertise has been sought out by world record setting pilots Dr. Bill Bussey, Jetta Schantz , Pat Harwell and Kevin Uliassi, and others. Guy has been involved in over 16 different World Record setting attempts. He continues to compete in balloons throughout the United States and is always ready to talk “balloons” with any enthusiast. Welcome Guy to your first Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival! Good luck in the competition!
John Gibbons, who grew up in Battle Creek, now resides in Mount Morris, Michigan. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2011 and has over 75 pilot-in-command hours. This is his third year participating in the Field of Flight with his balloon “Great Escape”.
John is employed at Walker Electric as a Master Electrician/Estimator/Project Manager. John is joined this year by his better half, Torie Sedlarik, daughters Ava, & Friends Ryan Pendall & Casey Sterly.
Ron Groce is from Mason, Michigan. He has been a licensed balloon pilot for over 32 years with over 1000 hours as a pilot-in-command of a hot-air balloon.
He is a machinist by trade. He is married to his wife Jami. The name of his hot-air balloon is "Freebi".
Ron has participated in every single event at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival.
Brandon Heavin is from Moody, Texas. Brandon's father, Gary taught him how to fly. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2002 and has over 225 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. Brandon is currently raising beef cattle and farming - "Someone has to feed the people!"
The name of his balloon is "Ms B Heavin" which is a play on the 'infamous' Heavin name and for his wife, Amy.
This will be his 7th year participating in the event. His father, Gary Heavin, also pilots the "Almost Heavin" balloon. Brandon and his wife Amy crew for his balloon.
Brandon placed #12 in 2014 and #15 in the 2013 Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.
Gary Heavin has been flying hot-air balloons for over 30 years with over 1000 flight hours. He is the founder of Curves International, the world's largest fitness franchise and is currently the Chair of the Board for Curves and Jenny Craig. He resides on his ranch in central Texas with his wife and crew chief Diane. They have four children and four grandchildren. Gary has a passion for flying which includes helicopters and jet aircraft. His balloon name, Almost Heaven, is a play on his last name.
Gary placed #4 in 2013 & #10 in 2012 hot-air balloon competitions.
Dave Jaques is a commercial pilot who originates from Battle Creek, Michigan and now lives in Venice, Florida. He started flying hot air balloons in 1985. He worked 36 years for Post Cereal company as an electrician where he was instrumental in forming the Post Hot Air Balloon Program. Though the corporation owns a total of six balloons, including a Maxwell House coffee balloon, and a cereal bowl, the "Sugar Bear" special shape balloon from the Golden Crisp cereal and Saturday morning cartoons is Dave's biggest passion. Undoubtedly, the bear is one of the most popular balloons among the Field of Flight spectators young and old.
Some of Dave's accomplishments include flying in England, Canada and the U.S.A. Dave recently flew at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway 100 year centennial balloon race and won first place. He has placed well in many other events also and was honored to fly in the World Hot Air Balloon Championships in Battle Creek, where pilots from 33 counties competed for the title of world champion.
Dave "Capt. Flaque" Jaques' (pronounced flake) balloon is the highly recognized "Post Sugar Bear" balloon. Back in 1984, two of his friends bought a balloon. He crewed for them and eventually formed the Post Balloon Club. His crew is made up of Post Balloon Club members as well as local volunteers.
LIKE the Post Balloon Club Facebook Page.
Tyler Jaques is from Battle Creek, Michigan. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2007 and has over 230 hours being pilot-in-command. This will be Tyler's 8th year competing in the event but he has crewed at the event since he was a child. He became interested in hot-air ballooning because his father, Dave Jaques, is also a pilot of the Post Sugar Bear balloon. It truly is great for him to be participating. Tyler's balloon is the "Post - Cutting Edge" Balloon. He previously flew the red and white Post 2 balloon. His crew is made up of Post Balloon Club members as well as local volunteers.
Tyler is presently a manager at Meijer and owns his own hot-air balloon ride company called BC Balloon Rides where he pilots his balloon called Sapphire. He has a daughter named Brittney and his girlfriend's name is Erica Brandt.
Kevin Kamp has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2002, but has been around the sport since 1986 when a friend asked him to come crew for Susan Stamats, another long time participant in the Field of Flight. Kevin spent 16 years as crew before getting his own balloon and pilot's license. Kevin and his family reside in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and he makes his living as a Professional Photographer. The name of Kevin's balloon is "Linn-'Air'-ea". This will be his 5th year participating in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition.
Rick Kerber is from Wayland, Michigan. Rick came from a family of balloonists. He started flying hot-air balloons when he was 16. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2002 with over 485 hours as pilot in command of a balloon. Rick has been a rental manager at Michigan CAT for 30 years. He is married to his wife Cris and has two daughters, Jennie & Megan.
Rick flies the Michigan CAT/The Cat Rental Store Balloon. This will be his 9th year participating in the event. Rick's family will be his crew. Rick placed #15 in the 2012 Field of Flight hot-air balloon competition. Welcome back Rick!
Jeremy King was born and raised in Indianola Iowa, where the National Hot-Air Balloon Championships used to be held, so he has been around the hot-air ballooning world all his life. He started as a baby being pulled around the balloon field in a wagon while his mother sold programs. As he got older he was able to sell programs himself. At the age of 14 he signed up to crew and right there knew he wanted to be a pilot someday. It took many years of crewing and flying with friends before he decided to go get a balloon and license himself.
In 2003 Jeremy started his training in a good friend's balloon. In early 2004 Jeremy talked his crew chief into driving down to Florida to pick up a balloon. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2005 with over 565 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon and he received his commercial license in June 2008. Now he is training some of his crew to become pilots.
Jeremy is a handyman as well as the proud dad of his son, Cooper Wade King. He will be flying the balloon called "That One There" and he flies for "HBC Contracting". Jeremy truly loves to be in the air and see the faces of people when he comes floating by. His crew consists of Brad Morris and Jean & Courtney Grant.This will be his 6th year participating the event.
Steve Mitchell is from Streetsboro, Ohio. Steve grew up in Battle Creek and was a 2003 graduate of Lakeview High School and 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. His parents, Jeff and Mary Mitchell, live just 1/2 mile south of the W.K. Kellogg Airport. While in high school he volunteered to crew for out of town pilots with his brother and loved it so much, they decided to get a family balloon called "Summer Glow", which has been involved in previous Field of Flight events. Steve will be flying his Scrumtrulescent balloon in this year's competition.
Steve has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2008 and has over 170 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He is an accomplished competitor having won a number of various ballooning events. He also claimed Rookie of the Year honors at the 2014 US National Hot-Air Balloon Championship finishing 19th overall.
Steve placed #14 in the 2014 Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition and this is his 4th year participating in the event.
Michael "Mike" Moore is from Augusta, Michigan. He got into ballooning by crewing for Dale Wilson, Lori, his wife, actually is the one that named my balloon, Shenanigans. After buying my balloon in 2002, she asked if I had a name for it yet and I replied, "I was going to treat it like a new puppy. After you have it for a while, a name usually just comes to you." She said, "Good idea cause Lord knows the SHENANIGANS you're gonna pull...!" And the rest is history.
The Battle Creek event is, of course, my favorite event being the first I ever attended, so I look forward to participating every year. Join the Hot Air Balloon Floaters Association group on Facebook.
Mike "Fire Marshall Mike" Nelson is from Fortville, Indiana. He grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico near another large hot-air ballooning event. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2005 and has over 651 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He is a Heavy Equipment Diesel Mechanic.
His balloon naming was a family effort. They all wrote possible balloon names on the refrigerator and eventually picked "Midnight Racer". In the 2015 event, he'll fly Midnight Racer with the Channel 3 WWMT TV banner. He also owns and flies another balloon called Tickled Pink.
This will be his 10th year participating in the event. He is married to his awesome wife Keely and has four children; Brittany, Olivia, Lita and Mikey. His website, Ballooning 4 Education, was created to promote the science of ballooning and flying in general to get the younger generation involved in flying.
Richard Parr will be flying Racing Venture in his 3rd Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition this year in Battle Creek. Richard started flying in 1959 and took up ballooning after retirement and has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2007 and has logged over 405 pilot-in-command hours. He went to Purdue University Engineering School followed by 5 years as a Navigator in the USAF. He was a manager for Cargill Inc. for 35 years and lived in 4 countries and many locations. Presently Richard lives in Pittsboro, North Carolina on a private air strip with his wife Lindy.
Stephen Peck is from Battle Creek, Michigan. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 1991 and has over 400 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He is a retired counselor with the Red Cross and Binder Park Zoo. His wife's name is Sandy.
This will be his 21st year participating in the event. His balloon was named "Gypsy Wind" because Stephen likes the song Gypsy Wind! When he was first learning, Tom Roush required him to land the balloon at a nearby nudist colony...a day he will never forget.
Jeff Pestun is from Holland, Michigan and is a native of Battle Creek area watching hot-air balloons and then crewing his first balloon when he was only 8 years old. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 1999 with over 400 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He presently works in for Hope College. Jeff is married to his wife Robyn and has two children, Andrew (12) and Allison (10). The name of his balloon is "Special Purpose" which is a reference to the movie "The Jerk". This will be his 14th year participating in the Field of Flight Balloon Competition. Jeff is a fan of Trace Christenson and admirer of Amy Coan and Erica Hahn (the famous balloonists not the TV character that may or may not be based on her).
Jeff placed #4 in 2011, #11 in 2013 & 2012 and #9 in 2011 in the hot-air balloon competitions.
Johnny Petrehn is from Leawood, Kansas. He started hot-air ballooning in the early 70's has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1987 and has over 2600 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He works in real estate.
The name of his balloon this year is "Kodachrome". Previously he flew "Racer X" and he has competed in EVERY Field of Flight Balloon Competition in Battle Creek since 1991. His brother, Paul Petrehn, will be flying this year as well.
Johnny won 1st place in 2014 and placed #8 in 2013 & #1 in the 2012 hot-air balloon competitions.
Chris Reinert is from Alta, Iowa. He is a second generation pilot and received his pilot certification in 1998 after being trained by his dad, Mike. As a high school Physical Education Teacher, Chris enjoys his summer break attending balloon events with his family. This is his second year attending BCBalloons. The Break Free balloon crew consists of his wife Angie,sons, Carson and Camden and family friend Olivia.
Shawn Raya is from Oxford, Michigan. Shawn grew up with his dad flying the Father & Son Construction balloon. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1987 and has over 1740 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. Shawn is a purchasing manager at RHK Technology. He has a wife named Sandra and 4 kids; Joshua, Audrianna, Ashley & Victoria.
Shawn will be flying the "Fast & Serious" balloon with the "Sullair" 50 years banner. This will be his 10th year participating in the event. Shawn's family helps him crew the balloon.
Shawn has placed in the top 10 for the last several years, placing #5 in 2014, #7 in 2013, #8 in 2012 and #3 in 2011 in the hot-air balloon competitions.
Daniel Reusch is from Peoria, Illinois and will be participating in his 3rd Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2005 and has logged over 272 pilot-in-command hours. When Daniel is not flying his balloon he is employed as a Technician for an Engineering Company. This year he will be flying his new balloon called Sub Divo. His previous balloon was Why Knot.
Tom Ricke is from Clive, Iowa. When Tom married his wife, Julie, he married into a ballooning family. His father-in-law flew for 25 years. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1999 and has over 500 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. Tom is a banker by trade. The name of his original balloon that he flew through 2012 was "Pastime", which is the name of his wife's favorite authentic Mexican restaurant in Mason City, Iowa. In 2013, Tom began flying his new balloon called "Another Pastime", which he will again be flying in this year's hot-air ballooning event. This will be Tom's 16th year participating in the Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition. His crew consists of his wife Julie, son Jacob, daughters Morgan Smith and Courtney Schulte and nephew Phillip Johnson.
Pat Rolfe is from Battle Creek, Michigan. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2006 and has over 321 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He is a retired maintenance engineer for the Kellogg Company. He has a wife named Cindy and 4 children; Patrick, Jennifer, Michael & Russell. He also has three grandchildren named Trevor, Madison and Natalie. The name of his balloon is "Firewalker". There's a long story behind the balloon name...a bunch of guys around a campfire late at night being crazy...walking across a log on fire... This is Pat's 31st year participating in the Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition in any way, shape or form. Pat crewed for Dave Emmeret for 25 years and now the tables have turned and Dave, who is now a retired balloon pilot after 30 years of flying, is Pat's crew chief.
John Ross is from Appleton, Wisconsin and will be flying his Longwinded Balloon in this year's Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival. John has been around balloons since 1992 and has been a certificated pilot since 2001, He has participated in many balloon festivals. He was a crew chief from 1992 – 2000. He had the opportunity to participate in several Battle Creek summer balloon festivals, including the World Championships in 1995. He attained his Private Pilot license in 2001. He then added a Commercial Pilot rating to his license in 2003. Since then, he has had the opportunity to participate in two of the Winter Holiday Balloon Festivals here in Battle Creek. During these past fourteen years, he has also flown in Europe, Canada, Mexico , New Zealand, and throughout the USA. John enjoys the meeting of new people and seeing the joy in their eyes when they see the balloons inflate and fly away. He really enjoys sharing the sport of Hot Air Ballooning.
Tom "Old Fart" Roush is from Tallassee, Tennessee. He loves aviation and has been a licensed fixed wing pilot for 56 years and a licensed hot-air balloon since 1980 and has over 1330 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He worked for Kraft and Post Foods for a number of years and retired in 1995. The name of his balloon is "Git-R-Done". He has participated in EVERY SINGLE EVENT here since the Pre-World's in 1980. In ballooning, he most enjoys competition and has been fortunate to fly in 8 foreign countries. He "I'm 73 & if I'm going to do it, I'd better "Git-R-Done"" (this is his reasoning for the name of the balloon) His wife's name is Pat and they have 2 kids Laura & Patrick. Tom restores antique airplanes and flies it along with a home-built experimental.
Tom placed #4 in the 2011 hot-air balloon competition.
Jeremy Rubin is from Ankeny, Iowa. He will be returning to Battle Creek for his 4th Hot-Air Balloon Competition flying his Legacy balloon. . Jeremy started ballooning as crew for friends of his Mom. Eventually, she got her license then he got his. He loves the competition of the sport and the camaraderie with the group of balloonists. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1999 and has over 500 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He presently works in Finance. Jeremy and his wife Macenzie have 3 children, Madison, Avery and Reece.
From Castle Rock, Colorado, Meg Skelton began flying at age 11. She placed 3rd in the 2014 US Women's National Championships and was the top placing US pilot in the 2014 Women’s World Championships in Leszno, Poland. Meg is entering the 2015 season as the HACD top ranked female pilot, and is passionately committed that her love of ballooning contributes to finding a cure for type 1 diabetes.
Her company name is Green Dragon Enterprises. This will be Meg's first year competing in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition for her 3rd year participating in the event, flying her Maharani balloon. Maharani is Indian for Empress and has other derivations from Megan and Queen, which means "Great Queen".
Chris Smart, also known as CCD (Chris Can Do), is from Huntington, Indiana. Chris returns to Battle Creek for his 4th year flying his Dream Racer Balloon with the Blu Fish Consulting banner. He got into hot-air ballooning as a family hobby, and for the love of flight over 23 years ago. He has logged over 1400 pilot-in-command hours, and just as many fond memories. He loves flying with his brothers from other mothers, as they are all Top Dogs in his eyes.
Chris has finished in the top 10 every year since starting in Battle Creek, placing # 9 in 2014 & #6 in 2013 & in 2012 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition.
Susan Stamats is from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. She saw a hot-air balloon and then she was hooked. She now has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1986 with over 2400 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon.
Susan flies the "Alley Cat" balloon. She has participated in every event at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions except one. She says her balloon crew is the Best in the World!
Chuck Walz is from Munith, Michigan. Before becoming a pilot, Chuck was on a balloon crew. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 1993 and has over 950 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. Chuck works for the Jackson County Road Commission. He has a wife named Cindy and has a son named Brian. He has participated in this event for many years. He will be flying the "RE/MAX Mighty Max" balloon. Chuck's crew consists of his crew chief and wife Cindy, brother Rusty and his girlfriend Sarah.
Chuck placed #13 in the 2013 Hot-Air Balloon Competition.
Dale "Captain Boomerang" Wilson is from Augusta, Michigan. After crewing in the 1981 World's Championship, he bought his first hot-air balloon in 1987. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1988 and has over 520 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He is retired from AT&T. His wife's name is Lori. His mother-in-law came up with the name of his balloon "Seventh Heaven". This will be his 32nd year participating in the Battle Creek event. Dale's crew consists of members with an average age in the 60's.
Joe Zvada is from McAllen, Texas. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2002 and has over 650 hours as pilot-in-command of a balloon. He presently works as an Aircraft Scheduler/Dispatch for Charter Company. The name of his balloon is "Super Chicken". This was his 9th year participating in the event. Check out the Balloon Pong website.
Joe won 6th place in 2014 and 1st place in the 2013 in the hot-air balloon competition and placed #9 in 2012 and #11 in 2011.
As dusk falls over W.K. Kellogg Airport, some MAGICAL ILLUMINATIONS begin. During our "Balloon Illumes" the launch field will be lit up with the glowing burners of over 20 Hot-Air Balloons. This "picture-perfect" site, is something that you won't want to miss and will become one of your favorite family memories forever.
The Balloon Illumes also incorporate some audience participation. You will be asked to say "Twinkle" or "Light 'Em Up". When you say "Twinkle", the pilots will light their burners in spurts, causing them to twinkle. When you say "Light Em Up", the flame will stay lit and the grounds will light up. The "Balloon Illumes" are a fan-favorite part of the Field of Flight, year after year.
There will be TWO Balloon Illumes during our 2015 Event.
- July 2nd Evening
- July 4th Evening (in between our Twilight & Night Air Shows)
You won't want to miss them.
Weather conditions must be almost "ideal" in order for a Hot-Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there is any sign of a potentially non-safe flight, then the launch will be CANCELED. Experienced Balloon Pilot, Jim Birk, serves as our Balloon Meister. He is very trusted in the ballooning world and he makes the decision on if a safe flight can be executed or not. In addition, launches are also at pilots discretion. Here is some weather information on ballooning flights:
- Winds Aloft
Hot-Air Balloons are a type of aircraft that rely on basic scientific principles to fly. Warm air rises over cooler air, thus the balloon is able to rise when the burner is thrusted. To help the balloon rise, pockets of lifting air known as "thermals" must be present. These thermals are most prominent in the early morning, just after sunrise, and early in the evening (the reason why launches are scheduled at 6:30 AM & between 6:30 & 8 PM for the event).
Prior to flight, a "Piball" (or Pilot Balloon) will be released. This is a helium filled balloon that lets the pilots know the general direction of the wind. This is the way the pilots balloon will drift. Wind directions do change based on height (especially if a front is in the area) and pilots must rely on (and know the direction) of the winds aloft. A balloon must also be able to land once in the air so the decision for "Go" or "No Go" for launch must take both the takeoff, flight, and a safe landing into consideration.
This means that weather conditions must be almost "ideal" in order for a Hot-Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there is any sign of a potentially non-safe flight, then the launch will be CANCELED. Here is some weather information on ballooning flights.
- Winds Aloft: Winds aloft (or winds at higher altitudes) can also cause a flight to be canceled. There may be almost no wind at the ground, but at altitude, the wind may be blowing at 20 miles per hour. Winds aloft must also be taken into consideration when deciding whether to fly or not.
- Visibility: Balloon Pilots operate under FAA VFR conditions. This means they must have a certain amount of visibility in order to be able to fly (which means NO NIGHT FLYING). Depending on flight location, the visibility must be AT LEAST 1 to 3 miles. For the most part, there will be NO flying in fog.
- Rain: Balloons do not launch in the rain. Rain can damage the balloon and decrease visibility. Besides, would you want to fly in a Hot-Air Balloon in rainy weather?
- Fronts: There must be no fronts in the area for a balloon launch to occur. Fronts usually come with a change in wind direction or increased wind speeds. If pilots can plan ahead for this, then it may be possible for a launch. But if the front will move through during time of flight, the launch must be canceled.
- Thunderstorms: There must be NO thunderstorms within 100 miles of the launch point for a balloon launch to take place. Thunderstorms present hazards to any type of aircraft, but a balloon is the one aircraft that would be affected most by any type of weather condition. A lightning strike to a balloon is an extremely dangerous hazard. In addition, gust fronts can occur up to 100 miles in advance of a storm or line of storms, which could heavily impact a balloon. If the weather forecast calls for Severe Weather, it is a good bet that the balloons will NOT be launching at that time
With this basic understanding of conditions for Balloon Launches, we hope you understand why some flights during the event are canceled. You will now be able to know if a balloon launch is likely to occur or not just by checking the local area forecast for Battle Creek or W.K. Kellogg Airport, courtesy of Win 98.5. Also, remember that Launch Forecasts and Updates will be available on our Facebook, Twitter and this website throughout the event.
Contact these Balloonists for Paid Passenger Rides in Battle Creek, Michigan and the surrounding areas.If they are participating in this year's hot-air balloon competition, they may not be available during the festival. NO PAID BALLOON RIDES ARE AVAILABLE DURING OUR EVENT/LAUNCHES!
- Woody Watson (Alto) 616-813-7251
- Chuck Walz (Munith) 517-596-2621
- Tom Bergeon (Mason) 517-676-1444
- Ron Groce (Mason) 517-676-9657
- Shawn Raya 248-969-4354
- Rick Kerber 269-790-6020
- Mike Nelson (Fortville) 317-627-5196
- Chris Smart (Huntington) 260-224-0251
- Jim Birk (Defiance) 614-579-2970
2014 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings
- Johnny Petrehn 7185 Kodachrome
- Joe Heartsill 6559
- Chase Donner 6546
- Jeff Pestun 6373
- Shawn Raya 6372
- Joe Zvada 6304
- Yudai Fujita 6301
- AJ Nels 6210
- Chris Smart 6198
- Dominic Bareford 5616
- Jason Adams 5395
- Brandon Heavin 5326
- Larry Coan 5257
- Steve Mitchell 4999
- Jeremy Rubin 4978
Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated!
2013 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings
- 1 Joe ZVADA, TX 7950
- Paul PETREHN, MI 7860
- Joe HEARTSILL, TX 7730
- Gary HEAVIN, TX 7590
- Nick DONNER, KY 7550
- Chris SMART, IN 7540
- Shawn RAYA, MI 7510
- John PETREHN, KS 7470
- Harold CLIVER, TX 7260
- Phil CLINGER, MI 7050
- Jeff PESTUN, MI 6950
- Yudai FUJITA, JPN 6880
- Chuck WALZ, MI 6860
- Rhett HEARTSILL, TX 6800
- Brandon HEAVIN, TX 6680
Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated!
2012 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings
- John PETREHN, KS 11178
- Paul PETREHN, MI 10319
- Rhett HEARTSILL, TX 10039
- Nick DONNER, KY 9885
- Joe HEARTSILL, TX 9660
- Chris SMART, IN 9546
- Robert GONZALES, TX 9501
- Shawn RAYA, MI 8989
- Joe ZVADA, TX 8715
- Gary HEAVIN, TX 8711
- Jeff PESTUN, MI 8559
- Robert WATSON, MI 8368
- Andy BAIRD, MI 8321
- Jason ADAMS, ONT 8226
- Rick KERBER, MI 8007
Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated!
2011 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings
- Nick Donner IL 6704
- Chase Donner GA 6500
- Shawn Raya MI 6386
- Tom Roush TN 6364
- Larry Coan MI 6272
- Joe Heartsill TX 6182
- Paul Petrehn MI 6126
- Phil Clinger MI 5602
- Jeff Pestun MI 5557
- Roy Smith TN 5421
- Joe Zvada OH 5331
- Rhett Heartsill TX 5215
- Bret Christian IA 5172
- David Troutman KY 4943
- Jeff Sweet NC 4897
Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated!