Hot-Air Balloons

Morning and Evening Flights Plus 2 Balloon Illumes

2024 Hot-Air Balloonists

BlueGrass Rocket II, Nick Donner – Pilot #1
Louisville, KY
Maveryx / Oaklawn,
Steve Sitko – Pilot #2
Jackson, MI
SULLAIR, Shawn Raya – Pilot #3
Highland, MI
Enigma, Paul Petrehn – Pilot #4
Howell, MI
Dark Horse, Larry Coan – Pilot #5
New Hudson, MI
Marvelous, Andrew Nels – Pilot #6
Smyrna, GA
Pixie Styx,
Allen Anderson – Pilot #7
Minden, NV
Czech-Mix, Blake Aldridge – Pilot #8
Longview, TX
Reubix, Dan Reusch – Pilot #9
Peoria, IL
Moonshine, Meredith Bennett – Pilot #10
Columbus, Ohio
BluFish – Dream Racer,
Chris Smart – Pilot #11
Roanoke, IN
Hiedi’s Star, Chad Crabtree – Pilot #12
Delton, MI
Twice Blessed, Ben Miller – Pilot #13
Alliance, OH
EZ Balloon,
Spencer Copas – Pilot #14
Sellersburg, IN
Patches O’Houlihan, Joey Strutz – Pilot #15
Brighton, MI
Texas Racer,
Joe Heartsill – Pilot #16

San Angelo, TX

Overblown, Landon Kohtz – Pilot #17
Hopkins, MI
Purple Haze,
Ryan Duff – Pilot #18
Beachwood, OH
Hopkins Propane, Jason Jones – Pilot #19
Overland Park, KS
Xtremely Contagious, Ken Draughn – Pilot #20
Marysville, OH
Goodnight Gracie,
Janet Lutkus – Pilot #21
Medina, OH
Maddie Jones – Pilot #22
Overland Park, KS
Daydream, Dawn McKenzie – Pilot #23
Birmingham, MI
OLD CAT, Steve Mitchell – Pilot #24
Streetsboro, OH
Skyjumper, Kellie Rocha – Pilot #25
Ottumwa, IA
OTTR, Bruce Wood – Pilot #26
Carbondale, CO
Hot Ziggity, Craig Campbell – Pilot #27
Battle Creek, MI
Tapestry Supreme,
Joe Zvada – Pilot #28

McAllen, TX

Michigan CAT, Rick Kerber – Pilot #29
Wayland, MI
Beyond Time,
Ben Leatherman – Pilot #30
East Leroy, MI
Mighty MAX, Dennis Hall – Pilot #31
Howell, MI
Purple Haze, Jason Davis – Pilot #32
Milo, IA
Midnight Glory, Susan Stamats – Pilot #33
Cedar Rapids, IA
Whirled Peace, Jennifer Goldbloom – Pilot #34
Norristown, PA
Yen Yang, Bill Bussey – Pilot #35
Longview, TX
Magic Racer, John Petrehn – Pilot #36
Houston, TX
Freedom Breeze, Colin McClung – Pilot #37
Longview, TX
Cekmate, Cory Bloom – Pilot #38
Indianola, IA
Almost Heavin, Gary Heavin – Pilot #39
Gatesville, TX
MissBHeavin, Brandon Heavin – Pilot #40
Gatesville, TX
George, Thomas Brown – Pilot #41
Plainwell, MI
Stairway to Heaven, Rick Ferrall – Pilot #42
Lawrenceville, GA
Cynthia Seal, Henry Rolfe – Pilot #43
Battle Creek, MI
Seventh Heaven, Dale Wilson – Pilot #44
Augusta, MI
Be Hoppy, Phil Clinger – Pilot #45
Battle Creek, MI
Andale, Jacob Little – Pilot #46
Glendale, AZ

Phil Clinger, Championship Director

Phil has been flying hot air balloons for more than 25 years. He started directing competitions in 2000 and has been involved with the direction and operations of 47 competitions. Phil also operates the hot air balloon company Altitude Endeavors, FAA certified repair station Thermal Air Repair, and the corporate advertising & event management company Aviation Endeavors.

Balloon Flight Weather Criteria

Balloon Flight Criteria must be almost “ideal” in order for a Hot Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there is any sign of a potentially non-safe flight, then the launch will be CANCELLED. Our Balloon Meister is very trusted in the ballooning world and he makes the decision on if a safe flight can be executed or not. In addition, launches are also at pilots discretion. Below you will read about weather information on ballooning flights, such as, Winds, Winds Aloft, Visibility, Rain, Fronts, Thunderstorms.

Hot Air Balloons are a type of aircraft that rely on basic scientific principles to fly. Warm air rises over cooler air, thus the balloon is able to rise when the burner is thrusted. To help balloons rise, we need thermals to be absent or at low activity. These thermals are least prominent in the early morning, just after sunrise, and early in the evening (the reason why launches are scheduled between 6:30 AM and 8 AM & between 7 PM and 8:30 PM during the event).

Prior to flight, a “Piball” (or Pilot Balloon) will be released. This is a helium filled balloon that lets the pilots know the general direction of the wind. This is the way the pilots balloon will drift. Wind directions do change based on height (especially if a front is in the area) and pilots must rely on (and know the direction) of the winds aloft. A balloon must also be able to land once in the air so the decision for “Go” or “No Go” for launch must take both the takeoff, flight, and a safe landing into consideration.

This means that weather conditions must be almost “ideal” in order for a Hot Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there is any sign of a potentially non-safe flight, then the launch will be CANCELED. Here is some weather information on ballooning flights.

  • Winds: Winds are obviously the most critical weather phenomena that effects balloons. Winds are the #1 reason that Balloon Flights are canceled. Balloons fly best with wind speeds ranging from 4 to 6 miles per hour. Balloons will never fly in winds higher than 12 mph. Strong winds can not only damage the balloon, but it can make a pilot overshoot a target, cause a hard landing and require more space for landing.
  • Winds Aloft: Winds aloft (or winds at higher altitudes) can also cause a flight to be canceled. There may be almost no wind at the ground, but at altitude, the wind may be blowing at 20 miles per hour. Winds aloft must also be taken into consideration when deciding whether to fly or not.
  • Visibility: Balloon Pilots operate under FAA VFR conditions. This means they must have a certain amount of visibility in order to be able to fly (which means NO NIGHT FLYING). Depending on flight location, the visibility must be AT LEAST 1 to 3 miles. For the most part, there will be NO flying in fog.
  • Rain: Balloons do not launch in the rain. Rain can damage the balloon and decrease visibility. Besides, would you want to fly in a Hot-Air Balloon in rainy weather?
  • Fronts: There must be no fronts in the area for a balloon launch to occur. Fronts usually come with a change in wind direction or increased wind speeds. If pilots can plan ahead for this, then it may be possible for a launch. But if the front will move through during time of flight, the launch must be canceled.
  • Thunderstorms: There must be NO thunderstorms within 100 miles of the launch point for a balloon launch to take place. Thunderstorms present hazards to any type of aircraft, but a balloon is the one aircraft that would be affected most by any type of weather condition. A lightning strike to a balloon is an extremely dangerous hazard. In addition, gust fronts can occur up to 100 miles in advance of a storm or line of storms, which could heavily impact a balloon. If the weather forecast calls for Severe Weather, it is a good bet that the balloons will NOT be launching at that time

With this basic understanding of conditions for Balloon Launches, we hope you understand why some flights during the event are canceled. You will now be able to know if a balloon launch is likely to occur or not just by checking the local area forecast for Battle Creek Battle Creek Executive Airport, courtesy of Win 98.5. Also, remember that Launch Forecasts and Updates will be available on our FacebookTwitter and this website throughout the event.

Mesmerizing Balloon Illumes

Balloon Night Illumes – as dusk falls over Battle Creek Executive Airport, some MAGICAL ILLUMINATIONS begin. During our “Balloon Illumes” the launch field will be lit up with the glowing burners of over 20 Hot-Air Balloons. This “picture-perfect” site, is something that you won’t want to miss and will become one of your favorite family memories forever.

The Balloon Illumes also incorporate some audience participation. You will be asked to say “Twinkle” or “Light ‘Em Up”. When you say “Twinkle”, the pilots will light their burners in spurts, causing them to twinkle. When you say “Light Em Up”, the flame will stay lit and the grounds will light up. The “Balloon Illumes” are a fan-favorite part of the Field of Flight, year after year. There will be TWO Balloon Illumes during our Event (see Tentative of Events for times).

Balloon Rides for Hire

No paid balloon rides are available during our event/launches!

Contact these Balloonists for Paid Passenger Rides in Battle Creek, Michigan and the surrounding areas. If they are participating in this year’s hot-air balloon competition, they may not be available during the festival.

Battle Creek, MI
  • Altitude Endeavors, Inc., 888-933-5964
  • Pat Rolfe, 269-968-0368
  • Winds of Freedom, 269-719-0333
Howell, MI
  • Michigan Hot Air, 517-376-2141
Ann Arbor, MI
  • Shawn Raya 248-969-4354
  • Gentle Journeys, 202-302-3275
  • Chris Smart (Huntington), 260-224-0251

For balloonists throughout the Unites States, please visit the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) website at

Information for our Balloon Pilots

Official 2024 Sponsors
2024 Partners

Battle Creek Police | Battle Creek FireCalhoun County Sheriff | Michigan State Police