Inside the Basket - Dave and Erin Bair, Balloon Fiesta Pilots
Dave and Erin Bair are a father-daughter duo who both pilot balloons at Balloon Fiesta. In fact, they have participated as pilots with Dave’s father and Erin’s grandfather, Ray Bair.
In this month’s Inside the Basket, Dave and Erin talk more about the special moments they’ve shared at Balloon Fiesta.
1. Give a brief overview of your ballooning background.
Dave: I grew up in ballooning. I had my first ride when I was around three years old, at Balloon Fiesta and I have been hooked ever since.
Erin: I have been hot air ballooning my whole life, all 26 years. I learned how to fly from many friends and family members, specifically my father and grandfather. I got my private pilot’s certificate on my sixteenth birthday. I am now more involved in ballooning than ever, leading the AEROnatical NAvigators Under Thirty (Aeronauts) group of the BFA. Our goal is to create a community where young balloonists can learn and thrive.
2. How and when did you become involved in Balloon Fiesta?
Dave: 1976 ish (I think)....we were crewing with a balloon from Colorado and I got to ride. I have attended at least part of Balloon Fiesta every year since then. I have been a registered pilot in some way at Balloon Fiesta since 1989 when I got my private certificate. I have volunteered in several ways, most notably to help with the gas balloon races (Gordon Bennett and America's Challenge) for several years.
Erin: I have attended every Balloon Fiesta since 1996. My first Balloon Fiesta as a pilot was in 2012; I was an additional pilot on my dad’s balloon. I was the youngest pilot at Fiesta for several years. Before I was a pilot, I worked with my grandmother, Carol Bair, in the pilot tent for several years.
3. What is your favorite part about being able to participate in Balloon Fiesta, together?
Dave: The flying is fun, but that is not a huge draw for me. My big desire to attend Balloon Fiesta is to reunite will all our friends and family. Many folks we only see once a year and it feels like we never left!
Erin: My favorite part of Balloon Fiesta is the family reunion aspect. I get to see my entire ballooning family every year for ten days! It is a great time to catch up with my loved ones.
4. What is your favorite Balloon Fiesta memory, that includes all three of you?
Dave: A while back now, in 2013, we did a joint interview for Good Morning America where they learned a lot about Balloon Fiesta, piloting, and special shapes. In that event, Erin was the host for one of our favorite balloons to fly, Sunny Boy. The interview went well and it is one of the few times the three of us were working on a single balloon together.
Erin: My favorite Balloon Fiesta memory is during one of my first few years as a registered pilot, I was flying a media person. We flew across the river towards the West Mesa. Over the radio, my grandpa, among the other pilots in our little group, announced a wager: Whoever got closest to the high school would win (or just get to say they won…). I flew long and tried hard to get as close as possible, and I won for a minute before my grandpa flew over me and landed about 100 yards closer.
5. What advice would you give to someone interested in becoming a pilot?
Dave: Be born into it? Besides that path, I would recommend two things. I think joining a ballooning organization like a local club and/or the BFA to get connected with like-minded people is a great step. Ballooning is a community sport and the more connected we are the higher your chance of success. The second thing would be to get involved in whatever ballooning you can. That might be crewing for another pilot, scoring for a competition, volunteering at an event...whatever gets you around the balloons so you can learn and stay connected.
Erin: Become crew first. You learn so much about ballooning as a crew person, way more than you’d think.
Use this back button to return to the full list. If you want to preserve your filtered list, use your browser's back button and resubmit the form.