My name is Jeff Thompson. I am the creator of www.HotAirBalloonist.com.
I became interested in Hot Air Balloons at the age of 13 back in 1973 at the National Championships in Indianola Iowa. I began building tissue paper balloons and flying them. At one time I actually built a 17’ tall tissue paper balloon and flew my 10 speed bicycle with it. (Go on and try to duplicate that sometime)
I began my student pilot training in 1975 at the age of 15. By the time I was 16 I had my pilot’s certificate before I had a driver’s license. At age 17, I purchased my first balloon and flew in that same event in Indianola that I had watched from behind the fence just a few years earlier. At age 18 I won the Regional Championships in Pershing MO. I also finished in 3rd place in the National Championships in Indianola.
Many of you are more familiar with my parents Jim and Connie Thompson or my brother Jon Thompson than you are with me. I took my Mother and Father for their first flight when I was 17. Never realizing the nearly 4 decade commitment I was involving my poor parents in.
I have been a member of the BFA 36 years! I am also a BFA Corporate Member as well as a BFA Competition card holder and A BFA, HACD Official. I am a BFA level DA8 (Distinguished Aeronaut) I have over 6 thousand flights and still fly more than 200 flights per year. I was the #10 ranked pilot in the U.S. in 2011 and slipped a little to #17 in 2012. (On the BFA pilot ranking system) I have been the Florida State Champion for 5 of the last 6 years. I am very passionate about our sport. Now that you know who I am let me tell you about the site.
In my nearly 4 decade involvement with the wonderful world of ballooning I have seen more than my share of ups and downs. (No real pun intended) Our industry is dying a slow death and I just cannot sit by and watch. Last year I made 1,643 competition markers and DONATED them to the Indianola National Balloon Classic. Yes, One Thousand Six Hundred Forty Three! This number of markers would have cost the event thousands of dollars, but I did it because it was needed. You can be guaranteed my intent with this site is a pure one. I am trying to tie our industry back together so we can work as a team to promote, grow and expand our world. If you are in the Ride Industry look at what the movie “Bucket List” did for us. I was unfamiliar with even the term and now I hear it every day.
Please go on the site and read the welcome letter. It does a good job of explaining what we are trying to do. Please become a member and tell your CREW and any other pilots you know to get involved also. This is Important! We need a national resource like this. If you do rides, you know how the middle men sell tickets and take the profit out of our pocket. The profit they take from ONE PASSENGER FLIGHT can nearly pay your membership for a YEAR! That alone should be enough to become a member!
I am trying to get the BFA to become part of this. This is why I have extended a free membership to every BFA board member. This membership allows them to use the site to the fullest as a moderator on the site. There is no area on the site that a BFA board member can not use. There are even private areas on the stie that ONLY A BFA BOARD member can see and use. I am offering all of the benefits of this site to the BFA as a useful tool, in any capacity they may see fit to use. I AM HONESTLY TRYING TO DO A GOOD THING FOR THE BALLOON WORLD.
If you are a Balloon Ride Operator you may already be listed in the Balloon Ride Operations Forum. If you get a membership as a Ride Operator you can create your own listing like I have Thompson Aire or like High5ballooning has for his site. They can be customized by YOU any way YOU would like. You can also change, delete, add or modify any way you want at any time since they are completely your topic.
It will take some time for you to get used to all the features this site has and we are adding more and more all the time. Once you become a member you will be able to use all of the features this site has to offer. Here is a link where you can find out more about how the site works.
Well, there are so many features to this site you will just have to go on and look around. We have spent a large amount of effort and money developing this site for the balloon world. Please give the site a chance. I honestly think it will be a great for the entire balloon community.
ARE YOU A BFA MEMBER? If you are you can receive a discount on your membership to HotAirBalloonist.com. At checkout there is a little link on the credit card page that says "I have a coupon to use" Click on this link and type in BFA and you will receive a $3 per month discount on your membership. *This can not be used on the basic membership or the Crew membership.
Suggestions or comments are extremely encouraged.
Thanks for taking the time to read my novel.
Interview at the National Balloon Classic Indianola Iowa 08/2016
BFA Directors Award.
Forward to 1:10 to 1:12 in the video to see presentation.