With over 30 years as an experienced and professional balloon pilot and flight instructor, Doug's expertise has allowed him to work with an enviable list of corporate clients as he has participated in balloon festivals all across the United States, Canada, and Taiwan.
Some of the corporate partners and hot air balloons that Doug has worked with include Ford Motor Racing, the Bacardi Corporation, Sara Lee, Heavenly Ham, Hawaiian Tropic, AT&T, Taco Bell, and Sony Electronics as an integral part of their national campaign for WEGA televisions as they received an Effie due in large part to his dedicated efforts.
Doug is a commercial pilot, flight instructor, safety seminar speaker, balloon rally organizer, and an on-air personality for radio, television, and film documentaries. He has also operated and managed corporate balloon programs for several Fortune 500 Companies, achieving exceptional and measurable results. Doug is also a frequent contributor to Ballooning Magazine and an award-winning nature photographer.
With 600 registered pilots at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Doug is one of only 12 pilots selected each year to work with Media Relations. In doing so, he provides color, commentary, and rides to local, national, and international media representatives who are on assignment covering Balloon Fiesta. During his flights for Fiesta he has worked with Forbes Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, The Weather Channel, Google Earth, as well as the staff and on-air talents of ABC, CBS, and NBC to name a few.
Doug is a member of the Balloon Federation of America, and graciously donates his time, talents, tethers, and flights to charitable organizations such as the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the Craig Hospital Right for Flight in Denver, and to elementary schools and youth groups in the areas where he travels to attend events.
Debby’s first experience was as a spectator at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in 1983; and her career as a professional balloon pilot for over 30 years has taken her all across the United States, and around the world to fly hot air balloons on three continents. Debby was a research RN for many years, and after retiring from the hospital, she has been involved in hot air ballooning full time.
Debby has been a flight instructor, commercial pilot for a national corporate program, a competition pilot, an Event Director, Balloonmeister, Safety Officer, a US Nationals Debriefer, a Safety Seminar presenter, and she has also held various leadership positions in balloon clubs in both Ohio, and with the AAAA in Albuquerque. In addition, she has been the pilot for several special shape balloons; most notably Elvis, Neptuno Seahorse, Football, and Scuba Diver.
Debby participated in the very First FAI Women’s World Championship in Poland, she was the BFA State Champion for Ohio, the Findlay Flag City Balloon Fest Champion, and she was also the NOBPA Women’s Champion for five consecutive years. She has also been a crew chief during the World’s Hot Air Balloon Championship, and was also the crew chief for a AX5 Men’s World Record Flight.
While she has flown in festivals all across the US, she has also flown in Mexico, Poland, Ireland, UK, France, and Kenya. Have passport, will fly; and it was while in Mexico that her most memorable flight occurred. She flew over the ancient pyramids of Teotihuacan, which was founded as early as 400 B.C., and features the massive Pyramid of the Sun, one of the largest structures of its type in the Western Hemisphere at 216 feet above ground level.
While that was her most memorable flight, her most fun flight was the one where she flew solo while setting two new World Records in an AX 5, a 54,000 sq.Ft. hot air balloon. At the time of her flight, she set the Female World Records for both Distance (181 miles) and Duration (9 ½ hours) for a ﬂight from Ottumwa, IA, to Ottawa, IL, in February, 2001.
She says she loved the fact that 10 guys in 3 vehicles were chasing her across 2 states! Her records have stood for almost 20 years until her distance record was recently broken last year.
Debby is a member of the BFA, and also donates her time and talents to schools and organizations promoting the sport of ballooning.
Rick is the newest member to our balloon community. He attended his first Balloon Fiesta in October, 2019, and recently obtained his Commercial Certificate in April of 2020. But don’t let that fool you; he is no “Johnny come lately” to aviation. Rick also holds an Airline Transport Rating (ATP) in Airplane Multi Engine Land, and Commercial certificates for Airplane Single Engine Land, Airplane Single and Multi-engine Sea, Glider, in addition to his new Lighter-Than-Air-Balloon. He also holds type ratings in the DC-3, B-17, B-25, Citation Jet and is an accomplished aerobatic pilot.
He has had many aviation memories over his forty plus years of flying, but his most memorable flight occurred when he took his first flight in the B-17 used to film The Memphis Belle.
Rick traveled to the War Bird Adventures in Kissimmee, FL, to get his B-17 rating. This historic aircraft was built in 1945, and for something that old, it’s holding together pretty good; well, for the most part. On Rick’s very first training flight, all the hydraulics went out in the 75-year-old World War II Bomber. So, on his first flight ever, he had to declare an emergency and land at MCO. Most people travel to Orlando and land at MCO to visit Disney World, but not Rick this day! Needless to say, he earned his B-17 rating that day.
Rick is also a Gold Seal Certified Flight Instructor for Single and Multi-engine Land and Sea Airplanes, Gliders, and Instrument flying. He is also a certificated advanced and instrument ground instructor. He is also a member of the National Association of Flight Instructors and a lifetime member of the EAA.
We are honored to have his aviation background and knowledge be part of our team to train you. If there was ever a person who knew the FAR’s and Sectional’s, he is that person.
He is a member of numerous aviation associations, including the Balloon Federation of America.
Deborah Rice is an accomplished yachtsman, a fixed wing aviator, and a commercial hot air balloon pilot with over 1100 hours of combined flying experience in both hot air balloons and airplanes. She is a retired educator living in Houston but spends a significant of time under, and in the New Mexico skies.
Deborah's 27 years of aviation experience, combined with her extensive background in education, provides her a well-grounded approach to the fundamentals of balloon flight and supports the comprehensive flight instruction that she provides on the rules, the aircraft, weather, pilot decision-making, emergency procedures, crew development, and more.
Deborah is also a member of the BFA, and graciously donates her time and talents to schools and organizations promoting the sport of ballooning.