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Balloon Pilot Fulfills Interest Through Flight

Debbi Waltman got her ballooning license 16 years ago and since has logged about 400 hours of flight time in several states. She first became enamored with the sport after she saw a large balloon passing over her home in Colorado. "I was hooked from there," she says. Soon, she and her husband were working on the crew for a balloon, getting rides when customers were finished. "[The pilot] gave the best advice I ever had - find out where they launch, show up there with gloves in your pockets and tell somebody you want to crew and that's how you get in." So that's exactly what Debbi did.  Debbi bought her first balloon after earning her pilot's license, calling it Hakuna Matata, Swahili for "no worries." She soon bought another balloon, calling it No Worries.  "I can't have a third balloon until I find out how to say 'no worries' in another language," says Debbi, who has never lost an iota of her passion for the sport.  "We have met uncounted numbers of wonderful people and gone to some really great places that we never would have gone," she says.  "I see a balloon and I have to find out who it is and where they're landing. I still want to be there. ... Ballooning is meant to be kind of like a sailboat - simple. It's very relaxing. That's why I fly is to relax."  She adds, "You fly for fun. ... Every flight is different. No two flights are the same. And that's the fun of it. Something is different every single time.  Bottom line: I'm a grandma who's always thought balloons were cool and finally found a way to get into it and loves to fly."

March 11, 2009

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