Interview with a Balloonatic

Grant & Kathy about to launch near Bacchus Marsh

Grant & Kathy about to launch near Bacchus Marsh

Back in June 2013 I took Kathy Mexted for her first ever balloon flight. It was also my first flight over the Bacchus Marsh area and the first time I’ve ever done circuits (complete with a touch-n-go) in a balloon (but that’s another story).

Kathy is one of the occasional contributors to the Plane Crazy Down Under show that I co-host, writes incredible articles, takes great photos & is herself a pilot. While she’s often found flying their Piper Cub, she’s also flown other GA aircraft such as Bonanzas & Warriors. Given all the flying she & her family are involved in, I was rather surprised to find she’d never experienced the early morning joys of ballooning.

Clearly Kathy is also a bit of an adventurer and perhaps brave beyond belief as she did not run screaming when I told her I’d be flying a balloon out her way if she wanted to come & join the fun. Suffice to say that despite my relatively low hours, the pre-dawn wake up and the frost on the ground, she came out and had an absolute blast as we floated serenely through the skies over Bacchus Marsh.

Inevitably the experience inspired her to write an article about it for the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association of Australia‘s (AOPA Australia) Australian Pilot magazine.

Clothing that references Plane Crazy, AOPA and the ABF? Score! :)

Clothing that references Plane Crazy, AOPA and the ABF? Score! :)

At this point in the story I’ll introduce Kreisha Ballantyne-Dickes, the Publications Editor at AOPA Australia and editor of Australian Pilot. Kreisha’s a lovely, enthusiastic & energetic lady who also flies aircraft and has a wicked sense of humour (as the title of her blog may suggest :) ).

I first met Kreisha in 2012 at AusFly in Narromine where she was promoting AOPA while I was doing commentary & running AusFly Radio with the PCDU crew. We’ve caught up at a number of aviation & social events since and she’s been wanting to include an article or two about ballooning since she found out I’m a balloonatic (she particularly loves that word! :) )

With Kathy’s article about her flight with me being drafted, Kreisha decided that she’d put ballooning content in an issue of Australian Pilot and that an interview with me would nicely balance out Kathy’s article. Go figure!

Enter Phil Buckley of Heritage Flightgear Displays. Phil is also a writer & photographer who contributes to Australian Pilot and I’ve known through Plane Crazy Down Under for a number of years.

Kreisha had Phil interview me about flying balloons and after a few phone calls and some emails, he managed to extract enough content to produce an article. Kreisha then combined his article with Kathy’s and some ballooning photos from Kathy, myself and some friends of ours into a six page spread in the October/November issue of the Australian Pilot magazine. I also managed to score the cover photo which surprised me no end as it was a “quick shot” I grabbed on my phone (a Galaxy S III) while flying alongside another balloon.

As if all that weren’t enough, Kreisha has also given me permission to host PDFs of the articles & cover image here on my site as well as reproduce them in the Australian Balloon Federation‘s Aeronotes magazine. Most excellent :)

You can access the content by clicking on the images or links below:

View Cover in detail
Read the Articles

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