Battle Creek Field of Flight

July 3 - 7, 2019

Hot-Air Balloonists Confirmed as of 05/24/2019

Bousselot, Matt - Marion, IA   
Brown, Thomas - Plainwell, MI   
Campbell, Craig - Springfield, MI       
Coan, Larry - New Hudson, MI
Cook, Devon - Battle Creek, MI
Crabtree, Chad - Delton, MI
Foelske, Aaron - Channahon, IL        
Heartsill, Joe - San Angelo, TX        
Heavin, Brandon - Gatesville, TX       
Heavin, Gary - Gatesville, TX 
Heffron, Albuquerque, NM       
Jaques, Tyler - Battle Creek, MI    
Jay, Kenny - Hallsville, MO 
Kerber, Rick - Wayland, MI     
King, Jeremy - Indianola, IA        
Lutkus, Janet - Medina, OH    
Mitchell, Steve - Chagrin Falls, OH
Moore, Michael - Augusta, MI   
Pestun, Jeff - Holland, MI  
Petrehn, John - Missouri City, TX 
Reeder, Eric - Ravenna, MI
Reusch, Dan - Peoria, IL                
Rolfe, Pat - Battle Creek, MI    
Sitko, Steve - Jackson, MI          
Smart, Chris - Huntington, IL        
Stamats, Susan - Cedar Rapids, IA
Wall, Cameron - Albuquerque, NM
Wilkinson, Justin - Bermuda Dunes, CA
Wilkinson, Steve - Palm Desert, CA
Wilson, Dale - Augusta, MI   

BOUSSELOT, MATT - SUNFIRE BALLOON

Matt Bousselot - Sunfire Balloon Matt Bousselot Matt Bousselot is from Marion, Iowa and has been flying since 2012. Battle Creek is one of his favorite places to fly because of the wonderful people! Joining Matt on his ballooning adventures are his wife and crew chief Anne, and their fun and friendly crew! This will be his 5th year participating in the Battle Creek Hot Air Balloon Championship. This year he will be flying a new 60X racer balloon: Sunfire.

BROWN, THOMAS (TOM) - POST BALLOON

Post Balloon Tom Brown Tom Brown has been piloting for over 20 years; he attained his Private Pilot certificate in 1997, Commercial in 2000, and has flown in Colorado, New Mexico, New York, New Hampshire, Indiana, Ohio and throughout Michigan. He will be flying the POST Balloon this year in Battle Creek. He is a Military Veteran; U.S. Air Force Security Forces Master Sergeant, Retired (22 years). One of Tom's favorite sayings is, "A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men." ~Willy Wonka. His crew Haiku, "Thank you very much! As I can't do' as I am, Nothing without you!"

CAMPBELL, CRAIG - HOT ZIGGITY BALLOON

Craig Campbell - Hot Ziggity Balloon Craig Campbell - Hot Ziggity BalloonCraig 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. 

COAN, LARRY - SUPERFLUOUS BALLOON

Larry Coan Hot Air BalloonLarry Coan Larry Coan is an Product Manager for the Ford Motor Company and has been involved in hot air ballooning since 1989. His wife, Amy is his Crew Chief and they are both from New Hudson, Michigan. This will be his 12th year participating in the Battle Creek Hot Air Balloon Championship. 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 12th year participating in the Battle Creek Field of Flight.

Larry placed #5 in 2017, #10 in 2016, #10 in 2015, #13 in 2014, #5 in 2011 and #3 in 2010 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

COOK, DEVEN - REMAX BALLOON

Deven Cook - Remax Balloon Deven CookBattle Creek, Michigan's own Deven Cook will be participating in this year's Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition with the Remax balloon. He has been around hot-air ballooning since the early 1970s 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. Deven also flys as one of Michigan's Corporate Pilots for Remax.

He is an Air Force Veteran and is employed as a Information Security Officer for Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Battle Creek.

WebsiteWinds of Freedom Hot Air Ballooning
Facebook: Winds of Freedom Hot Air Ballooning

CRABTREE, CHAD - INDEPENDENCE BALLOON

Independence Balloon - Chad Crabtree Chad CrabtreeChad Crabtree was born and raised right here in Battle Creek, Michigan. Chad took his love and passion for Hot-Air Ballooning in the mid-1980s to find pilots and volunteer for crew for the Air Show. Ever since then, Chad has worked his way as Crew Chief for several different pilots. Chad has been to several World Hot-Air Balloon Championships. Chad has taken all of his knowledge and now has become a pilot. Now flying for several years, Chad is trying to become a Commercial Pilot. Chad's Balloon is called Independence and has the U.S. Flag on one side and U.S.A. on the other side.

FOELSKE, AJ- THE HUMMINGBIRD BALLOON

AJ FoelskeAJ Foelske - The Hummingbird Balloon Originally from Indianola, IA, Aaron Foelske joins us from Channonhon, IL and will be flying in the Battle Creek 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 started flying hot-air balloons in 2001. When Aaron is not flying his balloon, he is an Engineer for Southern Company Gas. Aaron won 4th place in 2018, 3rd place in 2017 & 6th place in 2016 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

HEARTSILL, JOE - TEXAS RACER BALLOON

Texas Racer Balloon - Joe Heartsill Joe Heartsill Joe Heartsill, aka "Smokin' Joe", is from San Angelo, Texas. Joe attended the Albuquerque, New Mexico balloon festival in 1978 and knew he had to get one for himself. He purchased his balloon and didn't even know how to fly it! He has been a licensed balloon pilot since the early 1980's. Joe works in Investments. He is married to his wife Nancy and has a daughter named Kate as well as his two sons, Rhett & Lucas.

The name of his balloon is "Texas Racer" simply because he loves to race and is from Texas. This will be his 27th year participating in the event.

Joe placed #3 in 2018, #1 in 2016, #3 in 2013, #5 in 2012 & #6 in 2011 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

HEAVIN, BRANDON - MS BEHEAVIN BALLOON

Brandon Heavin - Ms BeHeavin Balloon "Brandon Brandon Heavin is from Gatesville, Texas. Brandon's father, Gary taught him how to fly. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2002. Brandon is currently raising beef cattle and farming - "Someone has to feed the people!"

The name of his balloon is "Ms BeHeavin" which is a play on the 'infamous' Heavin name and for his wife, Amy.

This will be his 9th 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 2013 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

HEAVIN, GARY - ALMOST HEAVEN BALLOON

Gary HeavinGary Heavin - Almost Heaven BalloonGary Heavin has been flying hot-air balloons for over 30 years. 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 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

HEFFRON, MIKE - LITTLE BIT BALLOON

Little-Bit - Piloted by Mike HeffronMike Heffron Mike "Hef" Heffron is from Albuquerque, New Mexico and will be competing for the first time in the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championship flying his Little Bit Balloon. He has been involved in hot-air ballooning since 1983 and a pilot since 2015. His goal is to be a blessing to others and share the love of Jesus Christ through flying hot-air balloons. He owns and operates Unique Motor Sports Dealership in Albuquerque.

JAQUES, TYLER - SUGAR BEAR BALLOON

Tyler Jaques Sugar Bear Balloon - Tyler Jaques Tyler Jaques is from Battle Creek, Michigan. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2007. This will be Tyler's 10th 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, was also a pilot of the Post Cutting Edge balloon before his retirement. Tyler usually flies the "Post - Cutting Edge" Balloon, but this year he'll be sharing the flight time with Wes Dickerson, flying the "Post Sugar Bear" Balloon the second half of the festival. 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.
LIKE the BC Balloon Rides Facebook Page.
LIKE the Post Balloon Club Facebook Page.

JAY, KENNY - MAI'KEN MEMORIES BALLOON

MAI'KEN MEMORIES Piloted by Kenny Jay Kenny Jay Piloting the Balloon MAI'KEN MEMORIESKenny Jay, from the small town of Brookfield, Missouri, was introduced to the Hot-Air Ballooning sport from the local balloon derby, "Great Pershing Balloon Derby." Kenny and his wife both live in Hallsville, MO. He has been a private pilot since 2009. He owns and operates a small commercial diesel repair shop and spends his free time hunting, fishing and flying his hot-air balloon. Kenny will be flying his Mai'ken Memories balloon for the 4th time in this year's Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloon Festival

KERBER, RICK - MICHIGAN CAT / Cat Rental Store BALLOON

Rick Kerber in the Michigan Cat BalloonRick Kerber, Wayland, MI - Michigan CAT BalloonRick Kerber if from Wayland, Michigan. He came from a family of pilots and started flying at the age of 16. He flies the Michigan Cat/The Cat Rental Store balloon and has been with Michigan Cat for over 34 years. Rick's beautiful wife, Cris, and his amazing daughters, Jennie and Megan, will be his crew. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2002. This will be Rick's 14th year participating in the Field of Flight with over 600 hours. He has placed #11 in 2017, #9 in 2016 and #15 in 2012 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

KING, JEREMY - N DA DOGHOUSE / OAKLAWN BALLOON

"Jeremy Jeremy King 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 training in a friend's balloon. In early 2004 Jeremy talked his crew chief into driving to Florida to pick up a balloon. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2005 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 a new balloon this year called N Da Doghouse with the "Oaklawn" banner. 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 9th year participating the event. Jeremy placed #10 in 2018 and #13 in 2017 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

Check out Jeremy's website
LIKE his Team Flyin' KOAT Facebook Page
KOAT = King Of All Trades.

LUTKUS, JANET - GOODNIGHT GRACIE BALLOON

Goodnight Gracie Balloon - Pilot Janet LutkusJanet LutkusJanet Lutkus lives in Medina, Ohio and started out ballooning by crewing in 1985 for her two sisters, Donna and Diana, and a good friend, Carol Weiro, who encouraged her to learn how to fly. She received her private license in 1992 and her commercial license in 1996. This will be Janet's 3rd year flying the the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championship. She works with her husband, Jerry, as a financial manager at Hy-Tech Controls, which we started together in April 1983. She has a 14 year old daughter, Grace, who loves ballooning with her mom and goes up pretty much all the time with her.

MITCHELL, STEVE - OLD CAT BALLOON

Old Cat - Steve Mitchell - Balloon PilotSteve Mitchell - ScrumtrulescentSteve Mitchell is a 2003 graduate of Lakeview High School and 2008 graduate of Michigan State University. Steve currently lives in Chagrin Falls, Ohio with his beautiful wife Yolanda and son Grayson. He has been a licensed pilot since 2008. When not flying his hot-air balloon, he works as an Engineer for Nestle USA. The name of his balloon is "OLD CAT", because he purchased it from Rick Kerber, who used to fly it as the Michigan Cat balloon. This will be his 7th year participating in the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championship. Steve placed #10 in 2017, #2 in 2016, #6 in 2015 and #14 in 2014 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions. He also claimed Rookie of the Year honors at the 2014 US National Hot-Air Balloon Championship finishing 19th overall.

MOORE, MICHAEL - SHENANIGANS BALLOON

Michael Moore - Shananigans BalloonMichael MooreMichael "One Burn Too Many 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, especially now that I'm retired. Join the Hot Air Balloon Floaters Association group on Facebook.

PESTUN, JEFF - SPECIAL PURPOSE BALLOON

Special Purpose Balloon - Jeff Pestun Jeff Pestun Jeff Pestun is originally from Battle Creek and got started in hot-air ballooning by helping out-of-town pilots at the first events here in the early 1980s. He is a graduate of Gull Lake High School as well as Hope College, where he has been employed for over 21 years. Jeff resides in the Saugatuck, Michigan area with his wife Robyn, Son Andrew (16) and daugter Allison (14). His parents, Marilyn and Nick, still live in Battle Creek and often assist with his flights when he is in town. This will be Jeff's 19th consecutive year flying in the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championship. The name of his balloon is "Special Purpose" which is a reference to the movie "The Jerk". Jeff placed #5 in 2018, #1 in 2017, #4 in 2011, #11 in 2013 & 2012 and #9 in 2011 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

PETREHN, JOHN - KODACHROME BALLOON

John Petrehn John Petrehn - Kodachrome Balloon Johnny Petrehn is from Missouri City, Texas. He started hot-air ballooning in the early 70's has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1987. 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, also is a hot-air balloon pilot.

Johnny won #4 in 2016, 1st place in 2014 and placed #8 in 2013 & #1 in 2012 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

1986  FAA Student Pilot License (Age 14)
1988 FAA Private Pilot License (Age 16)
1990 FAA Commercial Pilot License (Age 18)
1998 Balloon Federation of America National Champion- Rantoul, IL
2001 North American Balloon Association National Champion- Waco, TX
2003 North American Balloon Association National Champion- Waco, TX
2004 North American Balloon Association National Champion- Baton Rouge, LA
2006 World Hot Air Balloon Champion- Tochigi, Japan
2010 World Hot Air Balloon Champion- Debrecen, Hungary
2014 Balloon Federation of America National Champion- Longview, TX
2015 Balloon Federation of America National Champion- Longview, TX
2017 Balloon Federation of America National Champion- Shreveport, LA
60+ balloon competitions won
2 Time World Champion (2006 Tochigi Japan & 2010 Debrecen, Hungary)
4 Time BFA US National Champion 
3 Time NABA US National Champion
2 Time US National Team Champion (Battle Creek, MI)

John has been awarded with the highest honor in ballooning worldwide, the prestigious Diplome Montgolfier, and the highest award nationally in ballooning, The Harmon Trophy. He has represented the USA in 10 World Championships, 3 World Air Games. He has 3100 + hours piloting balloons ranging from 21,000 ft2 – 240,000 ft2, including a wide range of special shapes balloons- all with a perfect safety record. 

John Petrehn is the owner and chief pilot of Magniflight LLC based in Houston, Texas. Currently, Magniflight LLC operates balloon programs across the United States and around the world for clients Canon USA, Hines and Bimbo Bakeries.

 

REEDER, ERIC - MESMERIZED BALLOON

Mesmerized Balloon - Piloted by Eric Reeder Eric Reeder Eric Reeder is from Ravenna, Michigan.  He, his wife Amy and two children, Chloe & Owen, love to do ballooning as a family. Eric has been around ballooning his entire life, spending many years crewing for close family friends Doug & Karen Mills. He was even able to spend a month ballooning in Africa with the Mills family in 1999. After many years of loving the sport he finally decided it was his time and got his Private Balloon Pilot License in 2014. They have since spent the past 3 1/2 years taking friends and family up in their beautiful balloon. Eric loves sharing his passion for ballooning with others and is honored and looks forward to his3rd time flying at the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championships. He will be flying a brand new balloon this year called Mesmerized Balloon.

REUSCH, DANIEL - REU-BIX BALLOON

Dan Reusch Dan Reusch - Reu-Bix Balloon Daniel Reusch is from Peoria, Illinois and will be participating in his 4th Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competition. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2005. When Daniel is not flying his balloon he is employed as a Technician for an Engineering Company. This year he will be flying his balloon called Reu-Bix. His previous balloons were Sub Divo and Why Knot.

ROLFE, PAT - CYNTHIA SEAL BALLOON

Pat Rolfe - Cynthia Seal Balloon Pat RolfePat Rolfe is from Battle Creek, Michigan. He has been a licensed hot-air balloon pilot since 2006. 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. He will be flying his Cynthia Seal Balloon. This is Pat's 34th 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.

SITKO, STEVE - MAVERYX BALLOON

Maveryx Balloon - Piloted by Steve SitkoSteve Sitko - Piloting Maveryx BalloonSteve Sitko is from Jackson, MI and will be flying for his 3rd year in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Air Show & Balloons Festival. He has been a licensed balloon pilot since 2012. When not flying his balloon, Steve works in purchasing for a local Tier 1 automotive supplier. The name of his balloon is Maveryx, which is a mash-up of his two daughter's names together. Steve is almost always accompanied by his Crew Chief and loving wife Sara. In my own words, "my finishes aren't quite good enough to publish". His one major accomplishment in Battle Creek is after years of rejection, he finally received the "team" hat from fellow pilot Rick Kerber in 2018.

He placed 1st in the 2016 Jackson Hot-Air Jubilee. Steve loves to fly and see the reactions from the kids of all ages upon landing his balloon.

SMART, CHRIS - DREAM RACER / BLU FISH BALLOON

Chris Smart - Blu Fish BalloonChris Smart - Blu Fish BalloonChris Smart, also known as CCD (Chris Can Do), is from Huntington, Indiana and loves to compete. When not competing, he enjoys putting smiles on people's faces while taking them up in his ride balloon, "Dream Catcher". He has been a commercial pilot since 1992. He is father to 3 daughters and 1 son, and also grandfather to 10. Ballooning has been a family hobby for more than 30 years, starting as crew for a local pilot. He has done pretty well most years in Battle Creek, and not so good the other years. Most of all, he enjoys being around his ballooning family. Chris returns to the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championship for his 7th year flying his Dream Racer Balloon with the Blu Fish Consulting banner.  Chris has finished in the top 10 many times since starting in Battle Creek, placing #6 in 2017, #9 in 2014 & #6 in 2013 & in 2012 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

STAMATS, SUSAN - ALLEY CAT BALLOON

Alley Cat Balloon Susan Stamats 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. 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!

WALL, CAMERON - VIOLA BALLOON

Viola Balloon Cameron Wall - Balloon PilotCameron Wall is a first generation pilot as no one else is his family flies. Cameron is from Albuquerque, New Mexico, although he is currently attending LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas. Last year, he went to Poland to compete in the FAI Junior World Hot-Air Balloon Championship as a part of Team U.S.A.

WILKINSON, JUSTIN - UPGRADE! BALLOON

'Upgrade - Piloted by Justin Wilkinson Justin WilkinsonJustin Wilkinson is a second generation pilot, with 14 years piloting experience. Justin and his wife Courteney and two daughters, Emrey and Elizabeth, live in Bermuda Dunes, California and will be competing for the third year in the Battle Creek Hot-Air Balloon Championship. They run a hot-air balloon ride company and Italian restaurant. Justin's balloons is called Upgrade, due to it being a nice upgrade from his last racer. He has been flying hot-air balloons for the majority of his life. He received his private license at the age of 17 and commercial license at 18. 

WILKINSON, STEVE - LIMONCELLO-LEMON BALLOON

Balloon Limoncello-Lemon - Pilot Steve WilkinsonSteve Wilkinson - Pilot of Limoncello-Lemon BalloonSteve Wilkinson and his son Justin will travel from southern California to compete in their third Battle Creek Field of Flight Balloon Championship. They own and operate Fantasy Balloon Flights in the Winter Resort area of Palm Springs, California during the winter months and compete in balloon races during the summer. Steve's balloon is a lemon balloon named Limoncello. He has spent many Independence Day Holidays at the Battle Creek Field of Flight. He has made many wonderful friends at the event and loves the challenges of the Hot-Air Balloon Competition. Steve has been a hot-air balloon pilot for 39 years. Steve came in 9th in 2018 in the Battle Creek Field of Flight Hot-Air Balloon Competitions.

WILSON, DALE - SEVENTH HEAVEN BALLOON

Seventh Heave Balloon - Dale Wilson Dale Wilson 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. 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 34th year participating in the Battle Creek event. Dale's crew consists of members with an average age in the 60's.