Dec. 29, 2023 Thru Jan. 1, 2024
Weather Permitting!



admin

Welcome our Pilots and Balloons for the 2023/2024 Event...

We just sent out our invitation to pilots to attend this years Gila Valley Balloon Extravaganza event over New Year's.  Pilots are coming from Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, California and possibly other areas. Most pilots love to tell the story of their balloon or how they got into ballooning, so we encourage visitors to welcome our pilots and learn more about them. Every balloon has a name and a story.  To see the pilots who attended last year, simply select 2022/2023 from the drop down below.

Air Apparent

Philip Bryant
Commercial Pilot
Richmond, TX

90,000 ft3
Lindstrand

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Philip Bryant is a commercial pilot for Single and Multi-Engine Land Airplanes and Hot Air Balloons. Phil has over 5100 hours logged as PIC with 2100 hours in Hot Air Balloons. He holds an Advanced Ground Instructor rating, also an instrument rating for airplanes and has been an ASMEL Instrument Instructor. Phil began flying in 1963 in Tucson, Arizona while attending the University of Arizona. Graduating in 1967 with a degree in Civil Engineering with structural engineering as his major, he was employed by Shell Oil Company as a District Engineer building petroleum facilities. Among the various assignments that Phil held with Shell was the Manager of Health and Safety for the Products Distribution Department. This assignment allowed Phil to gain an appreciation of the role of Safety in every aspect of our lives. After successive promotions within Shell, he eventually moved to Houston, TX, the head office location of Shell Oil Company. 

While traveling throughout the US and one foreign assignment, he continued to keep his aviation skills current as a flight instructor for General Aviation. Taking his first ride in a Hot Air Balloon in 1991, Phil quickly made the transition from airplanes to balloons. Adding the Lighter than air rating to his pilot certificate.  Phil soon began instructing hot air balloons and in 1996 became a Designated Pilot Examiner and FAA Aviation Safety Counselor for Hot Air Balloons serving the Houston Flight Standards District Office. In 2007, Phil obtained a Gas Balloon Rating in 2005, with numerous gas flights in the Americas Challenge and the Gorden Bennet events.  More recently Phil has been the Ballooonmeister of the Festival del Globo de Leon.


Philip will be flying sponsors from...

      Vining Funeral Home

 
Air Rocky Top

Mark Yocom
Commercial Pilot
Albuquerque, NM

105,000 ft3
Cameron

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

In 2018, Mark took his first balloon flight in a special shape balloon during Albuquerque Aloft, a day when pilots fly from local schools around Albuquerque the Friday before Fiesta starts.  By the following Wednesday, Mark went on his second flight during Fiesta and he was hooked.  Knowing he wanted to be around balloons and learn as much as he could, he began crewing for a nationally ranked balloon pilot and followed him to competitions around the country.  Mark crewed with that pilot for three years before buying his own balloon.  Mark loves flying at balloon events and being an ambassador of the sport.  Having family in the Gila Valley, Mark was excited to come visit last spring when he first flew the area with local pilot Greg Lindsey.  He is excited to be returning to fly in the Extravaganza!



Balloon: Air Rocky Top is a 2004 Cameron Z-105.  It was named by the previous owner who owned Rocky Top Press out of New York.  The logo is stylized in the same logo as Rocky Top Press.  The balloon has dual turning vents and a Rapid Deflation System.

Mark will be flying sponsors from...
 
 
BALLoonS Deep

Matthew Grote
Commercial Pilot
Rio Rancho, NM

90,000 ft3
Experimental

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

With a strong background in hot air balloons, Mathew runs a balloon repair station out of New Mexico, but also travels to multiple western states completing balloon work for pilots throughout the west.  As a commercial pilot, Mathew is the Dawn Patrol Leader in Albuquerque's Balloon Fiesta helping choreograph the dawn patrol show there and also performs as part of the Reno Dawn Patrol team.  Mathew graciously serves as our Glow Announcer for Friday and Saturday night glows here at the Extravaganza where he shares information with the crowd about pilots, balloons, and flying.



Matthew will be flying sponsors from...
 
Bitter Jug

Robert Roesch
Commercial Pilot
Bloomington, IN

38,000 ft3
Experimental

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Ballooning has been a family affair for Andy from the time he was a year old when his parents bought a hot air balloon.  Andy and his older brother Jon, also flying here at the Extravaganza, have been balloonists ever since. Andy earned his pilot certificate at the age of 18 after his father taught him to fly.  By 2014 Andy earned his commercial certificate and spent a few years flying big ride balloons in the Phoenix area. Loving the balloon industry, in 2016 Andy moved to the manufacturing side when he began working with Adams Balloons in Albuquerque.  Serving as a designer, engineer, and builder, he loved staying involved with ballooning as part of his career.  Andy is now an owner of Adams Balloon Loft in Bloomington, IN where he happily builds, flies, and repairs hot air balloons.



Balloon: Small, multicolor with silver accents

 
 
Calico Rose

Kenny Bradley
Commercial Pilot
Ault, CO

135,000 ft3
Adams

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Kenny will be one of our featured tether pilots at the Saturday night Glow Show Party.  Though Kenny dreamt of flying since he was seven years old, his first opportunity didn’t come until 2009 when he was offered a balloon ride after helping fix a pilot’s trailer.  That was all it took for him to catch the ballooning bug!  He began crewing and bought his first balloon in 2011.  By 2013 he earned his private pilot certificate and in 2021, he became a commercial pilot.  Kenny loves volunteering for special events like supporting breast cancer or entertaining crowds at county fairs and he hopes to help others achieve their dream of learning to fly!.  In 2021, Kenny bought Calico Rose, a 135,000 cu ft balloon which allows him to fly and tether additional passengers and he is excited to tether kids here at our New Year’s Eve Glow Show Party on Saturday the 30th.



Kenny will be flying sponsors from...

      Barney Trucking, Inc.

      City of Safford

 
Concho

Daniel Backes
Commercial Pilot
Florence, AZ

90,000 ft3
Aerostar

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Daniel became excited about balloons as a child when his parents began crewing for a hot air balloon pilot in 1985 after attending the Tucson Balloon Festival. Loving the sport, throughout his childhood, Daniel would crew for every pilot possible and especially loved crewing for special shapes. He loved learning about the different systems and different ways pilots worked. By 14, he knew he wanted to be a pilot and began logging student pilot training hours. As an adult, his career and family took priority, but in 2018, his ballooning dream resurfaced when he purchased his first balloon. By 2019, he earned his private pilot license, and just this year became a commercial pilot. He now LOVES sharing his lifelong passion for flying balloons and seeing the joy it gives kids remembering his own special childhood happiness around balloons.




Balloon:

This Aerostar Balloon is named Concho. Its pattern is what Aerostar calls a rally design with a Blue background and Yellow stripes. Concho holds 90,000 cubic foot of air and carries the Pilot and up to 3 passengers. 


Daniel will be flying sponsors from...
 
 
Czech it Out

Josh Lewis
Commercial Pilot
Salina, UT

90,000 ft3
Kubicek

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Josh became instantly addicted to ballooning after taking a balloon ride.  He knew immediately he wanted to become a pilot so began working toward buying a balloon and becoming a pilot. Josh worked with a Part 141 school which is an FAA-certified school to teach people how to become hot air balloon pilots. He earned his private pilot license and then his commercial license.  Josh is now a vital part of the ballooning community attending rallies in multiple states and running his own rally in his own town of Salina Utah.



Balloon: It's is a pretty balloon So Come Czech it Out!!

Josh will be flying sponsors from...

      Majik 100.7 FM

      United Way

 
Elysium

Nancy Lambertson
Commercial Pilot
Windsor, CO

105,000 ft3
Adams

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Like many pilots, Nancy has been obsessed with hot air ballooning for as long as she can remember! She finally had a chance to take her first ride in 2018.  Hooked and convinced she wanted to be part of the balloon world forever, she became a private pilot in 2020 and a commercial pilot in 2022.  Nancy loves sharing the ballooning experience with everyone she meets.  When she bought her balloon, she named it Elysium, which refers to paradise because she loves floating through the air in her paradise.



Balloon: Rainbow in the sky- paradise

Nancy will be flying sponsors from...
 
 
Fleur de Tucson

Mike Fleury
Commercial Pilot
Red Rock, AZ

105,000 ft3
Aerostar

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Mike is a highly experienced hot air balloon pilot who has been flying for 42 years. He and his wife, Becky, operate a balloon tour company in Tucson, Arizona where they have been flying for 35 years. Mike enjoys competing in balloon events where pilots navigate to designated targets attempting to drop markers or grab objects at certain spots on a field.  While Mike has won many awards competing over the years, his largest prize was at the 1998 Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta where he has competed for 40 years.  Competing against 800 other pilots, Mike navigated his balloon close enough to a pole from which he grabbed the keys to a new Ford F250!  Mike’s balloon basket is equipped with a seat which helps accommodate older and younger passengers as well as those not able to stand as long.



Balloon: Fleur de Tucson is a black spectrum Aerostar balloon with rainbow colors (turquoise added for Arizona) and is a personally designed unique pattern. The basket has a seat for older and younger passengers' comfort.

Mike will be flying sponsors from...
 
Floating Awaysis

Greg Lindsey
Commercial Pilot
Safford, AZ

105,000 ft3
Adams

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Greg and his wife Susan are both commercial hot air balloon pilots who enjoy flying side-by-side as a husband and wife team. Greg, also a fixed-wing pilot, became a hot air balloon pilot in 2016 to help fulfill a dream of his wife’s.  Though not entirely thrilled about ballooning at first, it didn’t take long for Greg to become passionate about the sport.  Greg now loves pleasing the crowds at rallies and flies on the Dawn Patrol team in the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta, in the Great Reno Balloon Race, and in Boise, Idaho.  The couple opened AZ Air Ventures as a small ride company so they could share the joy of ballooning with people in the Gila Valley.  Four years ago they expanded their efforts by starting the Gila Valley New Year’s Balloon Extravaganza, a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing tourism to the Gila Valley and offering a family-friendly way to celebrate New Year’s. 



Balloon: Colors of the southwest adorn the top and bottom thirds of the envelope including yellow, red, orange, purple, and light and dark blues. These vibrant colors frame a bright yellow equator where eight silhouetted flying and swimming ducks rest on light blue panels on every other gore.

 
 
High Def

Valerie Favicchio
Commercial Pilot
Ft. Collins, CO

90,000 ft3
Cameron

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

When a neighbor invited Valerie to “go crew for a balloon in the morning,” she thought, “why not,” and so it began.  Every weekend for the next two and a half years, she crewed for a man who ran a ride business and trained hot air balloon pilots.  Though she rode along on some flights, it wasn’t until she had the opportunity to take control of the burners that she became hooked.  For the next ten months she trained and received her commercial pilot certificate.  Shortly after that, she bought her first balloon. Valerie has flown all over the Western US and now loves to fly with her 19-year-old daughter who is also a pilot!



Balloon: A yellow balloon surrounded with primary colors around the equator and on the top.

Valerie will be flying sponsors from...

      Ash Creek Financial Advisors

      Kempton Chevrolet

 
Hot Minute

Tristan MacLean
Commercial Pilot
Phoenix, AZ

105,000 ft3
Cameron

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Tristan spent his childhood surrounded by balloons. As a teenager, he began crewing for hot air balloons and learning from pilots.  By 2017 he became a private pilot and earned his commercial license in 2019.  His love for sharing ballooning resulted in him opening his balloon business, Always Time To Fly. Tristan enjoys flying around the country and meeting new people.  Finding Tristan on the field is never a problem–just look for the pilot and crew all wearing cowboy hats.




Balloon: Hot Minute ^amp^*128293; is from Albuquerque New Mexico and is a Cameron balloons 105,000 ft.³ hot air balloon.

Tristan will be flying sponsors from...

      Graham County Chamber of Commerce

 
 
Jitterbug

Jon Roesch
Private Pilot
Gilbert, AZ

90,000 ft3
FireFly

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

The older brother of Andy Roesch, also flying here in the Extravaganza, Jon started ballooning when his parents bought a hot air balloon and he was only three years old.  As a high school senior in 1992, Jon learned to fly from his dad and earned his pilot's license.  Following high school, Jon flew with his dad and brother for several years, but then was out of ballooning for almost two decades.  In 2012 Jon excitement for ballooning resurfaced when he and his wife, Bonnie, purchased Jitterbug.  Now Jon enjoys flying family and friends in the Phoenix area.



Balloon: Colors are black, purple, teal, and blue.  Chevron pattern with purple on top and bottom and teal and blue in the middle.

Jon will be flying sponsors from...

      America's Mattress / Valley Furniture & Appliance

 
Just Ducky

Susan Lindsey
Commercial Pilot
Safford, AZ

90,000 ft3
Adams

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Susan and her husband Greg are both commercial hot air balloon pilots who enjoy flying side-by-side as a husband and wife team. Susan started crewing for hot air balloons in 2007 even driving to Albuquerque every month just to crew.  It took nine years for Greg to realize that Susan, a breast and ovarian cancer survivor, deserved to live her dream and get involved.  In 2016 the couple bought a balloon and Greg, already a fixed-wing pilot, became a commercial hot air balloon pilot “to make his wife happy”.  Eager to fully embrace the sport, the couple opened AZ Air Ventures and by January of 2019, Susan became a private hot air balloon pilot then earned her commercial license in June of 2019. The Lindsey's love sharing the joy of ballooning as they travel throughout the west attending events, many in small communities just like Safford.  Four years ago they started the Gila Valley New Year’s Balloon Extravaganza, a non-profit organization with the goal of bringing tourism to the Gila Valley and offering a family-friendly way to celebrate New Year’s. 



Balloon: Colors of the southwest adorn the top and bottom thirds of the envelope including yellow, red, orange, purple, and light and dark blues. These vibrant colors frame a bright yellow equator where eight silhouetted flying and swimming ducks rest on light blue panels on every other gore.

 
 
Miss Shenanigans

Steve Adams
Private Pilot
Albuquerque, NM

90,000 ft3
Adams

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

This marks Steve's 20th year of flying after earning his hot air balloon pilot's license in 2003.  He first flew here in the Gila Valley in 2013 when he brought his balloon to Safford for a special celebration for longtime crew member Susan Lindsey.  For nine years, Susan crewed for Steve before buying her own balloon.  While Steve enjoys flying for fun, he also loves competing in balloon competitions where pilots navigate to designated targets attempting to drop markers at certain spots on a field.  He was the first place winner in the first Chuck-A-Duck competition at last year's Extravaganza and hopes to retain his title this year!  Ballooning is a family affair for Steve as he enjoys flying in the southwest with his wife, Patty, and their two daughters Elizamarie and Veronica.




Balloon: Teal color with pink and yellow vertical stripes.

Steve will be flying sponsors from...
 
Plaid Pixie

Shelena Shamo
Commercial Pilot
Orem, UT

77,000 ft3
Cameron

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Shelena's love of hot air balloons started at a young age when she first saw a balloon at the US National Championships in her hometown. Years later her love reignited after volunteering as crew at her first hot air balloon rally.  Ballooning became a passion in Shelena’s life which spread to her husband as well.  The two were soon traveling the country crewing for pilots for several years.  In 2017, Shelena took her first flight and became determined to become a pilot.  She is grateful for the many pilots who helped her get started on her training.  Shelena was still a student pilot when she bought her first balloon but once she earned her private and then commercial pilot’s license, she flew as often as the weather would allow.  Shelena loves the excitement and happiness that hot air balloons bring to others and enjoys involving volunteers in helping with her balloon.


Shelena will be flying sponsors from...
 
 
Sans Souci

Debbi Waltman
Commercial Pilot
Windsor, CO

90,000 ft3
FireFly

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Like many pilots, Debbi’s love of ballooning started after attending a balloon event with her family in 1983 in Colorado.  Since then, Debbi has been either chasing balloons or flying them.  In the beginning, she crewed for and learned to fly from a local Colorado pilot. Many years later, she is now a commercial pilot who has flown in many states and three foreign countries.  She and her husband, Don, have owned six different balloons including their latest addition, 'Sans Souci', which continues to follow the 'No Worries' theme of all their previous balloons. Debbi is truly a founding pilot of this event because it all started when she began escaping the cold December and January weather of Colorado to come to Safford and fly.  Friends of local pilots Greg and Susan Lindsey, Debbi came each year to fly and the Lindsey’s were excited to have someone else flying here in the Gila Valley with them.  In 2020, Debbi brought friends with her when she came to visit and the first unofficial Gila Valley New Year’s Balloon Extravaganza began with eight pilots gathering over New Years to fly. 



Balloon: It's big and round and has lots of colors! (And a large band of white through the middle...)

Debbi will be flying sponsors from...

      Comfort Inn Thatcher

      Matlock Gas

 
Smiley's Dream

Keith Evans
Commercial Pilot
Santaquin, UT

105,000 ft3
Adams

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Over 27 years ago, Keith attended the Provo Freedom Festival balloon rally and when the announcer asked if anyone wanted to help a pilot Keith and his kids volunteered and he fell in love with ballooning. Keith and his wife Marianne began crewing for that same pilot and continued crewing for other pilots for the next 18 years making it one of his family’s favorite traditions.  Nicknamed Smiley since high school, when Keith bought his first balloon in 2011, he named it Smiley’s Dream as flying was Keith’s dream.  Completing his dream, Keith earned his private license in 2014.  In 2017, Keith became a commercial pilot and in 2018 bought a larger Adams balloon duplicating the distinctive red and black pattern but placing a large smiley face on the top of the balloon so he could continue flying in Smiley’s Dream.


Keith will be flying sponsors from...

      Gila Valley Embroidery

      Home Depot

 
 
Stars & Stripes

Curt Bramble
Commercial Pilot
Provo, UT

105,000 ft3
Cameron

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

Curt became involved in ballooning In 1983 when Provo UT wanted to add hot air balloons as part of their July 4th Freedom Festival.  Asked to organize the event, he agreed, but only if he could ride in a hot air balloon.  Curt had set out to accomplish 25 bucket list items since graduating from Notre Dame and moving to Provo in 1973.  Those items included hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, climbing Mt Whitney, hang gliding, skydiving, scuba diving, spelunking, and taking a hot air balloon ride.  After achieving that last item on his list, he started a new venture by becoming a private and then commercial hot air balloon pilot in 1984.  Curt competed in the US Nationals in 1989-1991 and his family has now enjoyed ballooning for over 39 years flying throughout the US and internationally. One of his most unique flights was over Byrce Canyon at the request of the National Parks.  Curt now flies dawn patrol (launching in the dark before sunrise and landing after the sun rises) in Boise, Reno and Albuquerque.




Balloon: Our balloon was designed to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy in America.  The balloon n-number is N-1776N and its inaugural flight was July 4th 2017

Curt will be flying sponsors from...
 
Takach Another Breeze

Keith Takach
Commercial Pilot
Albuquerque, NM

90,000 ft3
Cameron

View Pilot & Balloon Information...

Pilot:

In 1972 Keith attended Albuquerque's first balloon rally and was thrilled watching 13 balloons inflate and take off. It wasn't until 2000 that he took his first balloon flight, celebrating his 20th anniversary with Margie, his wife of 42 years. From that point on, Keith was hooked on ballooning and began crewing for and learning from some of the best pilots. So began his weekly adventures in ballooning and now, with over 1250 hours and a commercial pilot, Keith enjoys competing in two local balloon clubs. He still loves to fly first timers and welcome them into the wonderful family of ballooning.

 



Balloon: Head 90,000 cubic foot multi color pattern forming a Greater Sign >

Keith will be flying sponsors from...
 
 

Gila Valley Balloon Extravaganza
Copyright 2024
Saturday, April 13, 2024 Web Designs By Request