Darren Kling has 25 years of experience flying balloons around the country as well as internationally and is the owner/operator of Big Sky Balloon Co. based here in Central Oregon. He offers scenic balloon flights over the spectacular landscape of the high desert and also manages a corporate balloon program for RE/MAX International throughout the Pacific Northwest. Darren has been the Balloon Director at Balloons Over Bend for the past 12 years and enjoys helping to bring his balloon friends into town for this great event. He’s logged over 2000 hrs of flight time and maintains a perfect safety record. For more information visit www.bigskyballoonco.com
I have been involved in the Ballooning community since 1992, when my Dad took me to my first balloon rally. The passion for ballooning “took off” when I was able to get a balloon ride with a local Portland pilot at the age of 6. Ballooning has been a central factor in my life for as long as I can remember, and I knew that I needed to become a pilot as soon as I could. I received my Private license in 2005, and followed it up with my Commercial in 2011. Ballooning has given me so many amazing opportunities, and its something I hope to be able to do for many years to come.
Robert Raper – Redemption
I received my commercial certificate in 1996. Bought my first balloon in 1995 while learning to fly. Currently have 4 Balloons and manage my business – High Plains Drifter Hot Air Balloons, LLC. Currently I am moving from Miles City, Montana and returning to North Bend, Oregon. I usually attend 7-10 events annually including Reno, Nevada and Albuquerque, New Mexico. I fly throughout the western 11 states.
Greg Miller – I’ll Fly Away 2
As a Free Lance Photographer, Greg was looking for opportunities to take stock photos, and was invited to a balloon event in Salem Oregon. Greg attended the event and started crewing in 1990. What started out as a photographic experience, turned into a lifetime passion, for Greg, and his family. Greg ended up buying the balloon he was crewing for, in1995 receiving his private pilot license in 1996 and his commercial pilot license in 1997.
Greg and his wife Janet recently relocated their residence and home port for I’LL FLY AWAY BALLOON ADVENTURES to Prineville Oregon located in beautiful Central Oregon, where he offers Scenic Balloon Flights throughout Central Oregon, because the sun shines 300 plus days a year allowing for year round flying. When not flying in Central Oregon, he travels throughout the Pacific Northwest to different Ballooning Events.
Greg and his balloon I’LL FLY AWAY 2, a beautiful balloon with the bottom half all the colors of the Peacock, and the top half is all Black, have made the trip to Balloons over Bend several times and look forward to this years event. Come out to the field and say hello to Greg, and be part of the experience. Having relocated to Central Oregon Greg is building an active crew list. If you are interested in becoming balloon crew you can get more information from our website www.illflyaway.net or call Greg at 503 510-7835.
Koh Murai – Firenze
I am predominantly a sport flyer but also provide some instruction. I also enjoy aerostat construction with my first effort an AX-5. One of my other joys in LTA aviation is working on, executing, and helping others with long distance, long duration, and high altitude flights. It has been my pleasure to be the launch master for 5 world record flights. Yet time spent aloft is still the biggest thrill after all these years. The people you meet and become involved with are also a great reward and asset for participating in this sport.
From 1991-1998, I was involved as launch crew, launch master, and consultant for several trans-global balloon attempts. These included Earthwinds Hilton, Virgin Global Challenge, ICO Global Challenge, and Global Hilton. From 2000 – 2005, I was involved with scientific balloon and systems design and flight operations for a small private firm supporting various government and university agencies. This work included designs and flights in earth atmosphere, near space, and planetary exploration. Since mid-2007 to present, I have also been the engineering consultant and engineer of record for Firefly Balloons.
Doug Adamczyk- Gem
My interest in ballooning and aviation started at the age of 5 when I lived in Albuquerque, NM. But it was not until I was in high school in Ohio before I had the opportunity to crew for a balloon pilot. That hooked me and I have now been crewing for 30 years.
Ten years ago I received my pilots license for single engine airplanes. Then, in 2013, I jumped at the opportunity to buy a balloon and received my Lighter Than Air rating one year later. I am currently a member of Northeast Ohio Balloon Pilots Association, the Balloon Federation of America, and also the Pacific Coast Aeronauts. I have flown balloons in 5 states and participated in multiple balloon festivals in CA, OR, NY, OH, and MI.
I look forward to returning to Bend for my 2nd year!
Erik Bogdanowicz - Lighten Up
I have been around hot air ballooning since I was 12 years old. I have flown with and crewed for sport, competition, and ride business pilots in all of the western states. In 1991 I started the process of getting my private pilot certificate. It took a while, but I got that certificate in 2004. My home flying area is the Coeur d’Alene, ID/Spokane Valley, WA region. Hot air ballooning has always been a big part of my life and is a family activity for me, my wife, and three boys. We enjoy sharing the experience of ballooning with as many as we can.
Jack Loflin — Emerald
Jack’s first stab at piloting was when he was 6 years old. It was a small “line controlled” airplane with a 13-inch wingspan. No passengers! At age 18 Jack started flying “real” airplanes. Over the last 19 years, he has logged over 5,000 hours flying various aircraft. Although he started with airplanes, he now also flies helicopters, gliders, and hot air balloons. He holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate and is a certified flight instructor for airplanes, helicopters, and balloons. His day job is as an airplane and helicopter test pilot.
In 2017 Jack’s wife, Sallie, started Willamette Valley Balloons to provide scenic flights for passengers and to travel to balloon rallies. Jack now works for her on his days off, flying the green and black balloon you’ll see at the rally. Stop by and say hi. We’d love to meet you.