Hudson Hot Air Affair :: Hudson, WI
Hudson Hot Air Affair  ::  Hudson, Wisconsin   Hudson Hot Air Affair  ::  Hudson, Wisconsin

Hudson Hot Air Affair

Hudson Hot Air Affair :: Balloons 2015

Too Fun

Balloon Name: Too Fun
Sponsor: WESTconsin Credit Union
Pilot: John Lewis, Belview, MN

It’s a winning combination with long time Hot Air Affair pilot John Lewis and his crew chief wife Barb and 6th year HHAA corporate sponsor WESTconsin Credit Union.  John’s been flying for 14 years, logging 195 hours in the air.  The WESTconsin Credit Union crew of Chuck, Jay, Jim and Lori, are always there to promote HHAA at special events—welcome back as our corporate sponsor!  They have tickets for the Taste of Hot Air Affair—pick them up at the Hudson office.

April Love

Balloon Name: April Love
Pilot: Steve Johnson, Duluth, MN
Sponsor: Zappas Bros

Making his 20th visit to Hudson, Steve’s again paired with charter balloon sponsor Zappa Bros.  Steve’s a professional pianist & entertainer who also enjoys aerobatics.  He’s flown more than 2 dozen types of aircraft including sea plane, amphibian & biplane.  He’s had the best of both worlds—entertaining and flying!  Thanks to Steve and the folks at Zappa Bros. for bringing the Aerostar Aurora back to Hudson.

Crayola Lite

Balloon Name: Crayola Lite
Pilot: Wynn Gustafson, Arden Hills, MN
Sponsor: ViXX Converting/Anchor Paper Co.

Gus was on the very first pilot roster in 1990 and says he’s only missed one year of HAA due to a visit to the hospital.  He’s been flying balloons for 35 years and logged nearly 1,000 miles in the air.  ViXX Converting and their owner Anchor Paper Co. are pleased to partner with HHAA again this year by providing the paper stock for this year’s brochure.  Thanks Todd and the crew at ViXX.

Crayola Lite

Balloon Name: Minnie Me
Pilot: Wynn Steve Jacobs, Lakeland, MN
Sponsor: Viking Electronics

Hot Air Affair visitors can see a larger balloon up close when Steve arrives to fly for both Stillwater Balloons and Viking Electronics.  Don, Carol and the crew at Viking Electronics are long time HHAA supporters who help bring special fun to the Torchlight Parade on Friday night. We have new parade judges this year and they already know that Viking Electronics wins the prize for best kazoo band.  Thanks to both of you for being there when we need you!

Freedom Flight V

Balloon Name: Freedom Flight V
Pilot: Luke Cesnik, St. Cloud, MN
Sponsor: Vietnam Veterans Chapter 331

Luke’s flying the newest black POW-MIA special shape balloon with a large eagle face with barbed wire.  The POW-MIA letters are 3D—puffed out along with all the barbs on the barbed wire.  Luke’s a 23-year pilot with 725+ hours in the air.  When not volunteering for the POW-MIA cause, Luke’s a computer tech/consultant.  Luke’s  back as our Balloonmeister for 2015.  And special thanks to VVA Chapter 331 for bringing this special balloon to Hudson each year.


Balloon Name: Sabrina
Pilot: Mike Klawitter, Eland, WI
Sponsor: The UPS Store

A private pilot and owner of a hardwood floor company, Mike has been flying balloons for 20+ years and has 425 hours as pilot in command.  He’s been a HHAA pilot for nearly two decades and flies a 77,000 cubic foot Head balloon.  Al and his crew from The UPS Store help out with printing many of the HHAA materials—check out this year’s school program booklet put together by Mary Martin, Gail Maier and Jacki Bradham!

Crayola Lite

Balloon Name: Minnie Me
Pilot: Wynn Steve Jacobs, Lakeland, MN
Sponsor: Stillwater Balloons

Thanks Steve for being a friend of HHAA year round.  He’s a committee member who donates his time and use of his equipment to HHAA.  You’ll see a Stillwater Balloons basket at the Hudson Hilltop Pumpkin Party and Steve’s there when we need a balloon prop for a photo op.  His Stillwater Balloons Company is an icon in the St. Croix River Valley—offering passengers a special memory for a special occasion.

Crayola Lite

Balloon Name: Air Forge
Pilot: Mike Reinert, Alta, IA
Sponsor: Richard Pierce Memorial Flight

A 25-year pilot with more than 625 hours in the sky, Mike holds a commercial rating for his Firefly balloon.  He’s partnered with a special program this year.  Richard Pierce was a passenger in HHAA 2010 and lost his battle with cancer shortly after the event.  His widow Kathy (and HHAA committee member) is again partnering with the Hudson Relay For Life to offer a balloon flight experience to another cancer patient or survivor. 

Nifty Gadget

Balloon Name: Nifty Gadget
Pilot: Chris Keefe, Oshkosh, WI
Sponsor: Resco

Welcome back Chris to Hudson as a HHAA pilot.  We’ve traveled the ballooning circuit with Chris for more than 20 years watching him crew for others—especially the Wisconsin Balloon. We’re pleased you’re back in Hudson as a pilot Chris.  Thanks to Resco—a HHAA charter balloon sponsor—that means stepping up to bring a hot air balloon to Hudson for all 26 years we’ve been doing this!


Balloon Name: RE/MAX
Pilot: Steve Sinnen, Shakopee, MN
Sponsor: RE/MAX

Welcome back to Steve who will be flying the popular red, white and blue balloon in Hudson this year.  He’s been a balloonist for 31+ years, logging 1700+ hours as pilot in command.  You might have seen Steve and his balloon last fall at Bacon Bash in River Falls—an event of the River Falls Chamber and a new partner to HHAA.  Steve plans to participate in the media flights and Torchlight Parade.  RE/MAX has been listed in every HHAA brochure since 1991. 


Balloon Name: Enchantress
Pilot: Bill Baker, Tyler Texas
Sponsor: Reliance Electric Motors

Welcome first time HAA pilot Bill Baker and returning sponsor Reliance Electric Motors.  Bill’s connections with Hot Air Affair are through Bert and Jane Gaessler and we appreciate their help in bringing Bill to Hudson.   Thanks to Reliance Electric Motors for continuing as a HHAA balloon sponsor, plus look for their business card promotional ad in this year’s HHAA brochure.


Balloon Name: Valley Girl
Pilot: Jim Wohlwend, Stillwater, MN
Sponsor: PressEnter!

Jim was on the pilot roster when the HHAA started 26 years ago and has flown more than 1800 hours since.  He’s flying for long-time HHAA supporter PressEnter!  He can be found flying the fleet of balloons at Aamodt’s Hot Air Balloon Rides and helping support the Hot Air Affair year round.  Thanks to PressEnter for coordinating the photo contest again this year—we appreciate your long standing partnership with HHAA.


Balloon Name: Fire and Frost
Pilot: Ed Chapman, Jordan, MN
Sponsor: Pier 500

Welcome back Ed and sponsor Pier 500. Ed has more than 25,000 hours in a variety of aircraft, including more than 2,700 in hot air balloons during his 38 years of flying.  He’s also rated to fly gas balloons. He has set 20 world records in balloons and has made five flights over 30,000 feet with the highest being 38,900 feet.  Welcome back Pier 500—the perfect spot to watch the Torchlight Parade Friday night.


Balloon Name: Valley Girl
Pilot: Jim Wohlwend, Stillwater, MN
Sponsor: Oakwood Dental

Here’s a pair of great friends to HHAA—Jim’s a long-time local pilot who helps with HHAA events all year long.  Oakwood Dental’s a long-time local business that steps up each year to help bring the winter festival to life.  Thanks to both!  We appreciate the continued support of Oakwood Dental—check out their coupon in the HHAA brochure.


Balloon Name: Roscoe
Pilot: Michael Lesmeister, Rochester, MN
Sponsor: Minuteman Press

Welcome back Minuteman Press as a balloon sponsor—thanks to Pete, Cindy, Linda and the gang.  Also welcome back Michael—three years at HHAA piloting and 7 years total.  He’s a 17 year pilot and service manager and will bring the Roscoe balloon back to HHAA.  There could be some BBQ sauce in your future! 


Balloon Name: Stress Reliever
Pilot: Pete Riehle, Forest Lake, MN
Sponsor: Loparex, LLC

Pete’s a former Hot Air Affair Balloonmeister and he’s paired with his employer as a sponsor.  He’s a technical director of the Loparex plant in Hammond.  Pete’s been flying for 24 years and has logged 305 hours as pilot in command.  He and his wife Sue recently became the owners of another balloon and he says he’s planning to share his love of flying with his son.


Balloon Name: Retro
Pilot: Darrin Harrison, Topeka, KS
Sponsor: Linda White Family Hair Care/Brian Webb Property Executives Realty

Welcome new pilot Darrin Harrison!  He’s a technology director for a local K-12 school district in Topeka, KS and is anxious for Hudson winter flying.  He’s been a crew member for 14 years and a pilot for three years.  Linda White from Family Hair Care and Brian Webb from Property Executives Realty are sharing a sponsorship again this year.  Linda’s a HAA founder and her whole family lives and breathes HAA—including son-in-law Brian.  Congratulations on the addition to the family—Welcome Bodey to his first HHAA.

Sedona Sunset

Balloon Name: Sedona Sunset
Pilot: Glenn O’Connell, Elgin, Il
Sponsor: Lift Me Up Balloon/John & Evy Nerbonne

Glenn and his sidekick Brian Schwontkowski, along with Hudsonites Nancy and Gary Fouks, have been the foundation of the Lift Me Up Balloon for many years.  They provide a balloon ride each year to someone touched by cancer.  The HHAA experience lets a cancer patient step away from his or her daily challenges to enjoy a lift up flying in Sedona Sunset.  Glenn’s also a favorite volunteer at the local schools for education or special programs.


Balloon Name: Euphoria Grande II
Pilot: Rich Jaworski, Blair NE
Sponsor: Hudson Vintage Neighborhood Alliance

Rich and the Hudson Hauts, Wayne and Jean, repeated a Colorado ballooning vacation in 2014.  One highlight was a flight to 12,000 feet over Steamboat, CO and across the Continental Divide.  Their landing was in 3 inch deep water and prairie grass.  It was good that they had their Hudson sled along to ford the field of water and half-mile drag out of all the equipment.  The other highlight was soaking at the “clothing optional” hot springs in Ridgway, CO.  Nuff Said! 


Balloon Name: Bubbles
Pilot: John Bulloch, Genoa City, WI
Sponsor: Hudson Physicians

Back for a third year is balloonist and balloon sponsor to HHAA.  John Bullock’s been flying for 10 years and has crewed for several years in Hudson.  His full time job is as a Federal Safety Inspector.  Hudson Physicians has stepped up to sponsor John’s blue balloon with three smiling goldfish on the envelope.  Look for smiles on spectator faces as this duo goes into the air over Hudson.

Gus T. Guppy

Balloon Name: Gus T. Guppy
Pilot: Larry Konash, Burnsville, MN
Sponsor: Hudson House Grand Hotel

Larry’s the manager of IMC, the Twin Cities aviation insurance company that has been a long time HHAA supporter.  Larry started his aviation career at age 12 and has flown fixed wing and many other flying machines.   Gus T. Guppy’s flown all over the United States and we’re so pleased to have his smiling yellow face back in Hudson.  He will be carrying charter HHAA balloon sponsor Hudson House Grand Hotel—26 years of continuous support

Not Yet Named

Balloon Name: Not Yet Named
Pilot: John Rucker, Genoa City, WI
Sponsor: Hudson Ford

This is John’s fourth year as a pilot at Hot Air Affair, having been a crew member in Hudson for four years.  He’s been flying for 4 years and has 225 hours in the air.  This is the fifth year sponsorship for the local automotive dealership under current ownership and a long time balloon sponsor prior to that.  Thanks to Hudson Ford for helping us out when we call!

Airganic Garden

Balloon Name: Minnie Me
Pilot: Steve Jacobs, Lakeland, MN
Sponsor: Deanna & Mike Grigus, Hudson, WI

Here’s a great combination for Hot Air Affair—committee volunteers Steve Jacobs and new sponsor Deanna Grigus.  You’ll find Steve at the helm of his Stillwater Balloons and Deanna behind a camera snapping pictures for HHAA publicity shots.  This is the first year Deanna and her husband, Mike, are balloon sponsors and the whole family promotes HHAA in the St. Paul Winter Carnival Torchlight Parade.  Daughter Audra is a committee member helping promote via social media.


Balloon Name: The Patriot
Pilot: Daniel Whitman, Lakeland, MN
Sponsor: Freedom Valu Centers

Welcome back Keith as a HHAA pilot—pairing the Stillwater Balloons’ patriotic red, white and blue balloon with long time HHAA sponsor Freedom Valu Centers.  Keith flies the St. Croix Valley as one of the pilots for Stillwater Balloons and he plans to greet visitors Friday night in the Torchlight Parade.  Thanks to Freedom Valu Centers for bringing their concession trailer to the launch field every year to serve as our announcer wagon.

Jill & Tedd’s Excellent

Balloon Name: Jill & Tedd’s Excellent Adventure
Pilot: Tedd Maxfield, Austin, MN
Sponsor: First State Bank and Trust

Welcome back this third year balloonist and sponsor combination.  First State Bank and Trust in downtown Hudson likes being a balloon sponsor and Ted likes flying in Hudson.  He gets to check out a special place in Hudson too—YMCA Camp St. Croix.  Ted’s the YMCA Director back in Austin, MN.    He’s a 14 year pilot with 139 hours as pilot in command.

Airganic Garden

Balloon Name: Airganic Garden
Pilot: Bennett Schwontkowski, Cary, IL
Sponsor: Family Fresh Markets

Here’s the perfect balloon for the HAA agriculture theme this year—the special shape balloon Airganic Garden sponsored by Family Fresh Markets.  The balloon features state of the art inkjet printing for the attention getting design that includes two giant monarch butterflies, two red tomatoes, a 25 foot tall apple basket, strawberries, peaches, cinnamon sticks, a classic barn, five cows and two horses on a vivid blue and green background.  Congratulations Family Fresh Market for being named Hudson’s large business of the year!

Airganic Garden

Balloon Name: Twisted Truth
Pilot: Scott Armstrong, Urbandale, IA
Sponsor: Comfort Suites of Hudson

Thanks to Comfort Suites of Hudson for embracing the Hot Air Affair since opening in Hudson.  The hotel is paired with Iowa pilot and pharmacist Scott Armstrong.  Scott’s been ballooning for 12 years and has 275 hours as pilot in command.  His 56,000 cubic foot Lindstrand balloon will travel from Iowa in time to join others on Second Street in the Torchlight Parade Friday night.


Balloon Name: Scotch
Pilot: Larry Nickolay, Newport, MN
Sponsor: Catalyst Sports Medicine

Here’s one of HHAA’s favorite combos.  Catalyst Sports Medicine owner John Knutson, a founding committee member of HHAA, and pilot Larry Nickoly have been together nearly every year since HHAA started in 1990.  John and Larry have been sharing stories since the old days of the Red Baron balloon.  He’s got the experience with 36 years in ballooning and 1,236 hours as pilot. 

Hocus Pocus

Balloon Name: Hocus Pocus
Pilot: Dale Dommer, Ottumwa, IA
Sponsor: BMO Harris Bank

Dale says 2014 marks 23 years of flying balloons!  Thanks for returning to HHAA for the seventh year as pilot for BMO Harris Bank.  Dale has 600 hours in the air as pilot in command with a commercial rating.  Molly Johnson has worked at BMO Harris Bank in both Hudson and Ellsworth and heads up his Hudson balloon crew.  She’s an active HHAA volunteer helping to coordinate pilot activities—thanks for all the hard work!   

Cloud Nine

Balloon Name: Cloud Nine
Pilot: Mark Nabor, Big Bend, WI
Sponsor: Anderson Heating

Welcome back sponsor Anderson Heating and balloonist Mark Nabor for their fourth year together.  Mark works in information technology and has been a pilot for 7 years.  He says he looks forward to participating with the sponsors each year with his 1997 Firefly balloon.  Thanks to Anderson Heating and volunteers Richard and Sharon Young—who help promote Hot Air Affair year round—check out their clown outfits at Hudson’s Hilltop Pumpkin Party!  Thanks for being on the HHAA committee!


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