Pilots 2019

Bill Whelan & Sandra Rolfe Whelan

Hello Sussex and Atlantic Canada.

The past three years I have been sharing with you the remarkable story of my wife’s story of Recovery from a devastating stroke Nov 1, 2015.

Aphasia, A loss of Words, Not Intellect. Words come slowly to some one after a stroke, so you must be patient. The person with Aphasia knows what they want to say.....there is a disconnect between the Speech center and the moving parts of the mouth, ( Apraxia),so the affected person has had to recreate new pathways to formulate speech.....

We are sitting together on the side of the bed. I am fortunate that Sandra is a self motivator, but it helps if I plant a few thoughts along the way.

We were planning on building a new balloon with a Bee theme. You will see the balloons flying here in Sussex in 2019. I was looking for some inspirational word to keep Sandras uplifted spirits even higher.....during the winter is when we normally would try to break some type of balloon record, but not since January 2015, it was her last world record where she flew a very tiny balloon all day. Sunrise to Sunset never touching down, everything had to be carried aloft at lift off. It was -31C. As we sat together Sandra gave me her inspirational word that we would use until she came up with another word. BELIEVE, that was her word for today...when asked what we should call our new balloon, it soon took on a different spelling...BEElieve...is what our newest balloon would bee.

As the days went by Sandra kept giving me more and more words of inspiration..a different word every day..I was impressed things were happening more connections on so many levels..about 7 or 8 different words..

The next day I asked Sandra for another word..

All I heard was “turn the blanket over”.. what I asked, slowly Sandra says..” turn the blanket over”..I know it’s late and maybe I’m a little tired, as well....Sandra points to the corner and says that one..Believe

When balloonists travel and we arrive at different events the balloon committee assemble a pilot pack, maps, our schedule, gate passes and things we need for the area....and a welcome gift....a few years ago, Sussex gave us a travel fleece blanket ..on the blanket were written words of inspiration.

The first word to come from the blanket was Believe, so The BeeLieve Balloon’s Name came from the balloon committee.

Thank you my friends

Hoping to share more good news upon our arrival.

Bill and Sandra

Hello Atlantic Canada....

2019 makes it 30 years since I first came to the Atlantic Balloon Festival.

How time flys, I fell in love with Atlantic Canada flying the many valleys of Sussex.

I remember in the early days before satellite maps and good two way radios, how we navigated each one of the valleys. Balloons only fly with the power of the wind....weather reporting was a lot of guess work. The nearest weather office was over in Nova Scotia near Halifax....the weather over there was a lot different than here in Sussex....we would put up a lot of Pibals, ( small Helium filled balloons) watching with our compasses and timing them with our watches. We wanted to see where they went and where the balloon would start to turn. We timed the balloon as it rose to calculate the altitude. We know how fast a particular size pibal will rise.

The helium balloons ( 11”)we use here rise at approx 300ft/100meters per minute. The big weather balloons used at a weather station (16”) rise at 500ft/150m per minute. We would plot the altitude where the turn of the balloon took place, we use a compass rose on a map to determine our direction of flight and where we would go.....if we had good speed above and direction with open fields on our flight path, we would head out on an adventure to some place new......flying the ridges and tops of the hills in the valleys of Sussex is such a RUSH...a natural high.....floating along waiting for the winds to carry you some place....when flying a hot air balloon it is not the destination that is important, it is the journey, each and every flight is different. We see feel smell so many different things each flight.

I got to fly in Sussex the end of July. I had never flown in July before. I was training a new “Want To Be”..... student pilot....it was a beautiful morning.

Balloon flights are usually about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on a lot of factors...BUT while training a student...you are flying a light load with lots of fuel on board....time in the air is important as each student is trying to accumulate as much time as possible trying to get to the magic number of 16 hrs of burner time....( time to solo after that).

Let’s get back to the flight. We were headed towards the large smoke stacks off to the east, lots of landing spaces going that way. Wait we had a nice slow flight with a left turn at the surface, only a few feet above the tree line.

The rule of weather when it comes to the wind is you lose your left turn in the morning and your right turn at night....ask me or other pilots about that during the meet and greet on Saturday and Sunday during the festival.

Back to the flight, using the low slow wind direction the balloon kept moving north east, heading towards one of the rolling hills, the student asked about landing in some very welcoming fields, normally we would land, but Not today....we take the balloon into and over the woods, the student is flying, the trees are really tall. Some are several hundred feet tall, he is just a few feet above the trees drifting up the slope, he asks is this a good direction lots of trees. He asked flying his new balloon. Keeping a straight face I say quietly.......should be ok, its “Not My Balloon....”. his jaw drops with a where are we going look....not too worry we will find some place to land.....

We crested the top of the ridge and the student broke with a smile, look at all the places to land. Almost two hours of flight time. Back home when training in the fall when it’s cooler I tell my students to pack a lunch as we are going to be in the air all day, and there are no bathrooms in the balloon basket.....

I started off by telling everyone how I fell in love with the valleys of Sussex.

But what keeps me coming back is so simple..

Each and everyone of you make me feel at home...this is where my heart lives.... if the days are hard, it’s where I go to keep me grounded.

Bill Whelan AME

Flight instructor

Ballooning since 1982.


Rick Jones

Rick is a commercial pilot from Concord, NH who started coming to the Atlantic Balloon Fiesta in 1995. He also comes back to fly in Sussex for Turkeylude in November. He's very active in ballooning having been elected twice as President of the Balloon Federation of America, is chief instructor for Liberty Balloon School, and webmaster for www.blastvalve.com providing weather data for balloon pilots.
Traveling with balloons and meeting all the great people a balloon introduces you to is exciting. So far this year Rick has flown at a Valentine's Day festival in Thailand, during the total solar eclipse in Argentina, at the world's largest balloon festival in France, and now at one of his favorites in Sussex.
If you watch his orange, yellow, and blue spiral balloon inflating you might catch the polar bears on top of it.


Michael Olin

Mike began his aviation career in 1988 with a fixed wing pilot’s license. 20 years ago, he took his first hot air balloon flight and fell in love with the sport. Crewing for 15 years inspired him to purchase his own when he was able. His father passed away 5 years ago and with the money from the estate, he was finally able to purchase his own hot air balloon. Naming the balloon “Heaven Sent” is a tribute to his father who is now watching him fly from heaven. Ballooning has become a family passion.


Derald Young

Derald 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 providences. His biggest thrill still is sharing the wonderment of the first flight with new passengers.

This will be Derald’s 34th year attending Atlantic Balloon Fiesta since the start up with Doug Shippee and Art Goold.

Balloon Meister

Brian Bell

Started Ballooning in 1985 with Cross Canada balloons (Mike Cross) while living in Thornhill On. Sean Rice and myself got our first ride with Ken Penfold over the Newmarket skies, our reward for crewing.

Bruce Blanchard and I started our first commercial contract experience with Pizza Pizza under Bell Flight Services. Years went by before John Walters and I concocted Sundance Balloons on his townhouse porch. I think the contract most people relate me to is Hawwaiian Tropic Suncare, the Fish balloon, it was always a hit with the crowds from Albuquerque NM to Sussex NB. Sold my Balloon co is 1997 to fly full time in New Mexico. Currently reside in Brantford On, my occupation now is a Network administrator for multiple corp entities.

My flight experience covers over 3500 flights and countries around the world, I'm not a regular on the festival tour any longer but keep current flying a 210 Lindstrand and a 105 Areostar locally with Skyward Balloons in Kitchener.

I would like to bring to Sussex an experience the pilots and spectators will appreciate and enjoy, provide a safe and fun atmosphere that all will look forward to in the future.

This is my 7th year as Balloon Meister for the Atlantic Balloon Fiesta in Sussex, N.B.

Balloons 2019