New Pilot Ratings / New Balloons

April 10, 2010 - Steve and Elane Lacroix greeted the arrival of spring by journeying to Winterset, IA and bringing home Celebration, their new 105,000 cu. ft. National envelope.  Turbulent winter weather had delayed the maiden flight of Celebration for weeks following her completion by Bill and Louise Clemons.

June 22, 2008 - Piloting Steve Lacroix's Propane Scott Konvalin's SoloAddiction in his first solo flight, Scott Konvalin completed a successful 40 minute flight from the Billones Balloonport to Chalco Hills this morning, complete with a stand-up, roadside landing below the Wehrspahn Lake dam.  Congratulations, Scott!!

March 15, 2008 - At long last, Matthew Grote has allowed the world to gaze in wonder at his new balloon, Jester Unwindz.  Although Matthew actually took delivery of Jester on the 12th, he waited (impatiently) until Saturday's scheduled Club Flight at Lake Zorinsky for the official unveiling.  Matthew's parents, Ray and Ruthe, joined Matthew on his first flight in the new National AX-8 for a 30-minute hop from Zorinsky to Chalco Hills. Accompanying Matthew were Rich Jaworski and Luckie Lawrence in Euphoria, and Steve Lacroix, Janet Meadows and Red McDonald in Propane Addiction. After landing, Matthew put on a 20-minute "photo-op" before finally packing it away.  Congratulations, Matthew!

August 25, 2007 - There's something familiar about Rich Jaworski's latest balloon, a National 105,000 ft3.  Like the five that preceded it, the envelope is red and white, and is nearly identical in appearance, down to the white pennants and striped scoop, to his previous Aerostar AX-7.  Rich started assisting in the construction of the envelope this winter at the National Balloon shop in Patterson, IA, but time got the better of him and he ended up turning it over to Louise Clemons to put on the finishing touches.  Rich took "Euphoria Grande" on her first Nebraska flight this morning from the Sarpy County Fairgrounds in Springfield.  Click the photo at right for a better look at Rich's new heavy hauler.  Photo: Matthew Grote

June 30, 2007 - Matthew Grote has completed yet one more significant step in a journey that began when he first laid hands on a hot air balloon at the age of one.  Under the watchful eye of DFE Rob Bartholomew, this morning in Carlisle, IA, Matthew successfully demonstrated his command of Grote's not Rich and his mastery of the requirements for the Commercial Pilot Hot Air Balloon rating.  Assisting Matthew on his flight were his mom and dad, Ruthe and Ray.  Congratulations, Matthew!

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November 4, 2006 - Jim Gunhus, pilot of Yellow Bird has completed his path to earning his Commercial Pilot Hot Air Balloon rating.  Jim passed his checkride in Carlisle with examiner Rob Bartholomew.  Assisting Jim were his wife and Crew Chief, Jenni, and NBC members Kent, Kellie and Ashley Dinkleman.  Although the takeoff was brisk (Jim said winds were reported as 9 kts at Des Moines), the 40 minute flight concluded in a stand-up landing, witnessed by Bill &Louise Clemons and Brad Temeyer.  Congratulations, Jim!  (We hope Rob spelled your name right, even if he can't say it!)

October 1, 2006 - Ginnie Martin has obtained her LTA student pilot license.  Ginnie and her dad, Bil, are frequent crew for Kryptonite.  Welcome, Ginnie!

September 6, 2006 - Nine months and 1 day after upgrading his ASEL private pilot license to include an LTA Free Balloon rating, Rob Skiba has added "Commercial Pilot" privileges for Free Balloons to his certificate.  Rob completed his checkride with Rob Bartholomew on Wednesday evening, flying across Carlisle, IA, as Rob's instructors Mike Shrum and Tom Peterson, along with Rick Wollen, assisted as crew.  Congratulations Rob!

July 16, 2006 - Ron Dobesh has successfully demonstrated his mastery of the art of Aerostation.  Ron passed his Private Pilot LTA Free Balloon with Airborne Heater checkride with FAA Designated Examiner Rob Bartholomew this morning in Carlisle, IA.  WAY TO GO RON!!!

Delaware, Ohio, April 28, 2006 - Following a thorough inspection and test flight, Steve and Elane Lacroix took delivery of their new (to them) balloon, an Aerostar AX-8, shown at left.  The Lacroixs have renamed the balloon Propane Addiction, and are calling their balloon ride, instruction, and aerial advertising business "Scenic Wind Balloon Tours."

Ron Dobesh has been training under Steve's instruction, and he and his wife Misty have purchased Blue Taz (formerly known as "Second Wind").  Ron is working toward his solo, now that he has his own balloon in which to practice.

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May 31, 2006 - Ron soloed Blue Taz in a flight of 1.5 hours that took him from Lake Zorinsky across the Platte River for a distance of just over 10 miles.  Congratulations, Ron!

May 1, 2006 - Rob Skiba has completed Levels 1 and 2 of the BFA Pilot Achievement Award Program.  Look for Rob's name to appear in the next issue of the BFA newsletter, Skylines.

On Sunday, February 19, 2006, Ron Dobesh and Scott Konvalin passed the FAA Knowledge Exam, following the Ground School in Carlisle, IA.  Congratulations, Ron and Scott!

Tony Lamb of Lincoln, who crews for Steve and Elane Lacroix, has obtained his student pilot's license.  Welcome to the skies, Tony!

Wayne Mohring of Wild Goose provided this recounting of his LTA Commercial checkride on February 4, 2006:

"We launched in a valley north of Indianola in a stiff 1 mph breeze.  About 300 agl the winds increased and we managed to fly 5 miles in just shy of an hour before landing, still north of Indianola.  Kind of a boring flight as far as they go, so Rob got a lot of the oral examination out of the way in the basket and he did a few more minutes back at the balloonport.  He picked out a field from about a mile away and said to land there.

"The most exiting part of the flight was the landing.  Coming into the corner of a small, roughly 5 acre hay field about 75 feet above power lines the wind was blowing all of about 4 mph.  With the basket maybe 20 feet off the ground we suddenly picked up to around 8 or 9 with a 20 degree left turn component.  We thought the left would be there, but the speed caught both of us by surprise as there was no indication on the surface the winds were blowing that strong.  And on the surface it wasn't, we were back to around 2 - 3 mph.  But with the envelope still in the faster winds a stand-up landing was aborted and I deflated as soon as we landed.  We hit pretty hard, too, the sudden increase in wind speed created a false heavy and down we came.  Very odd, as there were no trees, the only thing around with any height was the power lines.  After Rob had thought about it for a few minutes, he said that because of the wind direction I had to do a steep descent into the field like I did.  A shallow descent would have caused us to miss it altogether.  And with the power lines in play and an increasing lack of field to work with, he acknowledged that was the only way I could have made the landing there.

"I figure he gave me my commercial certificate because I either demonstrated all around competency or he just didn't want to go through that again."

Congratulations, Wayne!

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Rob Skiba of Omaha, completed his transition from fixed wing to lighter-than-air on January 5, 2006 in Albuquerque, NM.  Along with his wife, Glenda and son, Cole, the Skibas have been active crewmembers for many NBC pilots over the past year.  Now, they prepare to take to the skies in their own balloon, Kryptonite.  Congratulations, Rob!

Matthew Grote of Omaha, Nebraska, after more than 15 years of chasing and crewing, on November 20th, 2005, fulfilled all the requirements and successfully completed the flight examination for his Private license!  Yes, Matthew became involved in ballooning at a very early age and has crewed for and supported just about every pilot in the Nebraska Balloon Club (NBC).  He has been a very patient student, completing his instruction over the last three years. Matthew recently waited several months since completing his instruction for the right conditions in his own life to allow him to take the flight exam.  He was awarded the NBC's "Crew Person of the Year" award in January 2005 for his help and support to our little balloon community.  Making ballooning easier and happier are what Mr. Matthew Grote does for the pilot when he is on the crew.

As a crew member, Matthew did not crew for his own entertainment, but contributed to the flight's success though his physical, mental, interpersonal, and musical capabilities.  Hey! He can sing well too!  He took great professional-quality balloon photographs and shared them with everyone on the crew.  His jokes and wit made even the most difficult situation fun for everyone.  We will all miss having Matthew as crew.

Please congratulate Matthew Grote on reaching this milestone in his ballooning endeavors.
  -  Rich Jaworski

Tom Peterson, past president of the Nebraska Balloon Club, earned his Commercial Pilot certificate on Saturday, November 5, 2005 in Carlisle, Iowa.  Tom reports his "first landing was better than his second, but the plowed field cushioned the descent (somewhat)."  Tom wasted no time exercising the rights and priveleges of the certificate, giving his first lesson the very next day on his return to Omaha.

Congratulations to Jeff Reid, who earned his Private Pilot wings on Sunday, August 28, 2005.

Steve Lacroix, last year's NBC Rookie Pilot of the Year, earned his Commercial Rating on Saturday morning, July 9, 2005.  Steve's checkride was signed off by Rob Bartholomew, and as Steve reports, they landed in the very field from which he launched on his Private Pilot checkride.  Congratulations, Steve!

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