Student Hot Air Balloon Pilot

I am 17 and a junior in high school, I live in the in the country with my family.
Along with being a balloon pilot, I also train horses and have two of my own,
Cheyenne and Tia. I also have two dogs, Logan and Charlie, and multiple barn
cats.

Well I grew up in aviation; it was always a part of my life and my family. I
have many memories of good and not so good landings with the balloon, as
well as the family trips we took cross country in our 172 Cessna Skyhawk.
There were two people who really convinced me that i could become a pilot
and they were my own grandfather who has been a pilot more than half his
life and Joe Kittinger who is a good friend of the family and also flies balloons
– although he is well known for the highest parachute jump ever made.

I really convinced myself to become a pilot for two reasons first because I
wanted to carry on our family tradition and second because I loved flying and
watching my grandfather and father fly, so I decided I would too.

I'm only a student pilot currently but I learned to fly through my father
teaching me; balloons don't need airports so we fly over the country fields of
Ohio. My balloon is made by Cameron and the model is a C-80. My father
owns a 177 Cessna cardinal that we both enjoy flying when the weather is
not right for flying the balloon.

Since I am still in high school ballooning is a hobby but I still take it seriously.
I choose to fly balloons because of the confidence it gives me along with a
sense of belonging and peacefulness.
I love my hobby, I love that I'm almost one of a kind because there are very
few women balloon pilots and even fewer as young as I am. I have done
papers for school on ballooning but I think the best part of what I do is being
an example to younger girls and prove that no matter their age or gender
there is not one door that is closed to them and that they truly can do
anything.

I have a list of funny stories! The funniest is probably an event that happens
every year. I give tether rides (rides where the balloon is still attached to the
ground with long ropes so I don't drift away) to an aviation event that lasts a
series of days. It starts on a Thursday night at a small airport where there is
a casual picnic and I take up almost all the people involved in the event
(about 50). Now when I go flying I typically wear clothing that I can get dirty
or messed up and I won't mind, but the following night the dress code is
much higher and I wear a dress and do my hair nice, etc. Therefore every
year I always have 2 to 3 passengers who will not recognize me because I've
had the complete transformation from grungy balloon pilot to reformed lady!
Their reactions are priceless!

Well ballooning uses all the skills listed but the biggest factor is probably
practice, the more you fly the more you understand what you’re doing and
how you’re doing it. An education is incredibly important, I can't count how
many times I've applied something I learned in school to a tricky situation in
ballooning and the training is long but worth every second.

What activities do you suggest for young children or young adults to prepare
them for a hobby like yours? The best activity is to go to a balloon rally near
you, mostly their held at fairs but a lot of times they are a completely
independent event. To look up one near you or to learn about other
ballooning activities or facts go to www.bfa.net

Write me anytime I'll be happy to answer any questions!
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
TM
Email Michelle!
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Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
Using aviation to entertain
and educate girls about
their limitless
opportunities...
TM