PILOT NAME: Adam Magee
HOMETOWN: Swisher, IA
BALLOON NAME: Gordo
Adam has been a balloon pilot for 11 years.
“I am very fortunate in that my mom became a pilot when I was around 5 years old. I grew up ballooning and from day one I always wanted to fly. I took my first flight when I was 6 years old. I remember that my mom was flying at an event in Creston, IA and it was supposed to be a nice, calm day for me to fly. As we were in flight the winds picked up and as my mom approached a large hayfield for landing she had me sit at the bottom of the basket. I remember sitting down on the floor of the basket with my bike helmet on as my mom executed a high wind, drag out landing. Our chase crew (my dad and some friends) were there when we landed and they always say that once the balloon stopped dragging and all the air was out, I just popped out of the basket and didn’t stop talking! That same passion for ballooning is still with me today as I don’t think I’ve stopped talking about ballooning yet.”
My wife and I also founded The Balloon Training Academy, a non-profit organization that hopes to increase the number of pilots in the sport of ballooning as well as increase safety by providing continuing education for pilots. We currently have an online training academy which provides the knowledge necessary to pass the FAA Knowledge Test for hot air balloons, which is one of the requirements to earn your pilot certificate to fly a balloon. When we aren’t flying, the Academy takes up a majority of our time. (www.theballoontrainingacademy.com)
Ballooning has given me the opportunity to fly in so many awesome places across the USA and around the World. Some interesting places I have flown in the USA have been in Jackson Hole, Wyoming at the base of the Grand Tetons, and flying from the shoreline of the Gulf into Johnson Space Center in Houston. My most memorable flight was launching in the parking lot of Busch Stadium and flying right alongside the St. Louis Arch. I have an incredible photo taken from a helicopter of me flying over the Mississippi River with the Arch and downtown St. Louis behind me. My most interesting experience in ballooning would be when I flew for Team USA for the first time at the Jr. World Championships in Lithuania in 2012. I went overseas by myself and borrowed equipment from a Lithuanian pilot who I had never met before and only emailed. Looking back on the whole situation it was interesting to go over there with nothing and not being able to speak the language and hope everything worked out with equipment, vehicle, crew, etc. It all worked out and it speaks to how great the ballooning community is even on an international level. The pilot who I borrowed the equipment from and had only emailed has become a great friend and even came to the USA to attend my wife and I’s wedding.”