Our 2016 Balloon Pilots
With decades of experience at our festival and beyond our Balloon Meister, Bill Whidden, brings us the best pilots in the country!
Jack Edling received his Fixed Wing Pilot License when he was a Boy Scouts at age 16, and has been a Hot Air Balloon Pilot since 1985. He flies in the area Northwest of Philadelphia, PA and attends about eight balloon festivals per year. He was been a board member of Great Eastern Balloon Association from 1998-2006, and was President of the Great Eastern Balloon Association from 2004-2006. He enjoys flying large inflatable animal kites when it is too windy for hot air balloon flights, and also enjoys throwing boomerangs- yes they do fly and return but you have to catch them for the flight to be counted in competition.
Jason Boucher is a second generation hot air balloon pilot from Chester, NH. In 2004 Jason decided he wanted to take his love of ballooning to a new height and in just 10 short months Jason accomplished his goal and became a commercial hot air balloon pilot. He has flown in NJ, NY, ME, CT, MA, VT, NH and Canada logging in over 700 hours of flight time.
Walt Rudy has been a Commercial Hot Air Balloon Pilot since 1984 and has flown over 1,100 hours. He has also been a Fixed Wing Private Pilot since 1977. His other interests include being members of an Inflation Team- he and his wife are co-pilots for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. He also enjoys sailboating, and was the past president of the Central Ohio Balloon Club.
Eric La Montagne took his first hot air balloon flight in 1983 at the age of six with his parents. Since then, flying and building balloons has been a wonderful adventure. After a time away from the sport, Eric’s interest in ballooning was renewed in 2014. Eric flew in last year’s Quechee festival and hopes to fly in many more. Eric and his family enjoy flying in Vermont and their home state of Rhode Island.
Darrek Daoust, “Every flight is a new adventure. What is most enjoyable is the great people you are able to meet from all over the world. From Bermuda to the Azores, Cape Town to Moscow. Darrek began his hot air ballooning career as crew in the mid 1990’s, but before too long, realized that he wanted his own balloon. Darrek graduated from a 141 Flight School located in Park City, Utah. Darrek is a FAA Certified Commercial Pilot, flying year round in Quechee. He has had the pleasure of flying in Italy, parts of Europe and Canada.
Derald Young started his career in the 1960’s while attending the University of Maine. He received his private fixed wing pilot’s license in 1970. In 1971 he saw his first balloon and he was hooked! Derald served as a naval flight officer for the U.S. Navy and then returned to his family home in the Bangor, Maine area. He learned to fly Hot Air Balloons and started Damn Yankee Balloons Inc., which offered passenger flights and student instruction. In 1985 Derald set a record as the very first pilot to cross Northumberland Straight in a Hot Air Balloon, which lies between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Canada. He flew 13 miles over ocean and landed on Prince Edward Island’s towering cliffs. Since that time he has flown over 3,000 hours in 10 U.S. states and 6 Canadian provinces.
Johann Francois Freve My first flight was when I was a foetus. At that time, my mom was one of the first lady pilot in Quebec and she taught my father to become a pilot too. After many flights as a passenger and participate to festival as a crew member, I began as a student pilot at the age of 16. I became a pilot in 2007 and my first festival as a pilot was at the largest event in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Until now, I did, as a pilot, more than 21 festivals in America and Europe. It’s only the beginning of life and I swear to visit the world in hot air balloon. For me, flying is a gift and I like to introduce people to this great experience.
A Tethered Ride gives riders a taste of Ballooning while being held down by long ropes only floating up to 50 feet in the air. They are a great way for small children or elders to experience a balloon ride. Like all other Balloon Rides, tethered ride are also weather permitting. Each ride lasts 5 – 10 minutes .Tethered rides are available for purchase during the festival weekend only, no pre-sales, for $20.
An Ascension Ride or the typical balloon ride is between 30 – 40 minutes with the whole experience taking about 2 hours. The balloons take off together and soar hundreds of feet in the air, gracefully moving over the landscapes of Quechee, VT and beyond. The balloons land outside the festival grounds, end with champagne and transportation back to the festival. They are available for purchase before and during the festival for $235.00. All balloon rides are wind and weather dependent.