Poor Gina came for a balloon flight with her
sister and daughter one day and had no clue what she was in
for. She started to date Captain Jeff and then he
proposed. They were married in May and now have a
daughter named Ava Marie Thompson. The next generation
of flyers in the Thompson family. Gina is busy with
the baby most weekends but still finds time to come out and
crew. She has fallen in love with the balloon world
and understands completely her husbands love for this and
enjoys being part of his world.
|Capt Kim McCourt,
Kim has been with us for 8 years. About two years
ago he said he would like to learn how to fly. His
life has not been the same since. He has worked his
butt off to learn the regulations and get his flight time as
well as purchased his own balloon to finish his training in.
We are happy to say that on July 27th of 2008 Kim took his
SOLO flight! Have a
look on the calendar to see his photo after his solo flight.
We will end up moving him from this page to the pilot page
Photos below were take of Kim's SOLO on
Capt Kim is now a pilot. He
still comes out as part of our ground team from time to
time but don't be surprised if you see him as your
Brother Jon's daughter. Audra is a balloon crew person
right out of the gate. Pictured here at the United
States National Championships she is right at home on the
balloon launch field. She will jump on board on any
flight if you tell her there is a spare spot. Her
infectious smile and go get em attitude will put a smile on
Kayla is the daughter of Capt Jeff's wife
Gina. Kayla was a little hesitant about going out and
becoming part of the ground crew but Capt Jeff's Niece Audra
convinced her to come out after a few sleep over's at Uncle
Jeff's house. She now comes out and is enjoying
crewing. Still a fight to get her out of bed in the
morning but still loves it when she does. Of course we
are now in the teenage years and she has a boyfriend.
Ava Marie Thompson
Ava is truly a priceless treasure.
We will update photos as time goes by. Ava is the
first child for Capt Jeff and most likely the last
grandchild for Grandparents Connie and Jim Thompson.
Ava was in her first balloon by the time she was only 2 1/2
months old. She may not be the next pilot in the
Thompson family but there is no doubt she has many flights
ahead of her. She may be out with us some weekend so
you can meet her. She took her first flight when she was
only 7 months old and now has three flights in her log book
and she not even three years old yet!
Sarge as we all have come to
affectionately know her. Mom "Connie" Thompson started
chasseing for Jeff back in the mid 70's. Connie was
the first chase team the Thompson Family had. Later
when Dad "Jim" started to fly she became his chase crew.
Father was content with flying in balloon festivals but
mother wanted to chase in competition. So father had
no real choice but to become a competitive pilot and fly in
balloon competitions. Thanks to Mother being so
persistent father was awarded the *Shields-Trauger
Award this last year in Albuquerque. This is the
higest award in ballooning and father gave most of the
credit exactly where it should have gone. MOM...
This is a special award (BFA's highest) and therefore
does not have to be awarded annually. (BFA Balloon
Federation of America)
Poor Leo, He was so worried about
what we would say here on the Crew page. Leo wants to
be a pilot some day. He tries as hard as he can but we
think his middle name should have been Murphy, If
something can go wrong it will for Leo.
I have no doubt that someday he will earn his dream and
become a pilot but he has more to learn than he can even
fathom yet. Each day he is out with us he learns more
and more and Leo has a very elegant style about him.
Polite and well mannered he is absolutely an asset to our
Pat is the Universal Crew person. Crewing for several
of the pilots in the area he also goes on the road with
brother Jon in the summer time. When he is on the road
with brother Jon he is the Chief Crew person for the
Children's Miracle Network balloon team. If you look
on the TA calendar you will see his name on several days.
The GC on the calendar means Ground Crew so when you see GC
Pat then that is ground crew Pat.
Retired navy seal and mailman for Disney, Patrick is also a
valuable part or our ground team. He has his private pilots certificate to fly balloons. Patrick also learns more about flying while he
chases for them. Patrick also crews for several pilots
but we like to get our hands on him first if we can.
Hailey is the daughter of Jeff's sister Jule.
Hailey has been involved in ballooning since she was able to
walk. Starting out as crew for grandpa (Jim Thompson)
Hailey and her brother Tyler were more or less born into
ballooning. Hailey has spent the last few summers down
from Iowa, crewing for us! It never fails the first
day she is out on the crew as soon as all the other crews
voice on the radio the next ten minutes all you hear is "HI HAILEY" "HI HAILEY" "HI HAILEY" "HI HAILEY" "HI HAILEY",,,.....
Paul and Julie Drew
Paul and Julie are friends from the
UK. They chase balloons back home in the UK and when
they come to the Orlando area each year they chase for us.
Friends for many years we all look forward to their yearly
visit. Great fun and just down right good people we
are blessed to have them out and to have them here to play
with us each year.
I went out with a friend to look at some
puppies. I was not there to get a dog, however, this
little puppy came out from behind a shed and laid across my
feet and went to sleep. Several of the guys looked at
me and said. Looks like you have been chosen. I
guess I was. She has turned out to be the love of my
life. Well mannered and extremely obedient.
Maggie Mae is a great member of our ground team. She
is not out every day but if she is with us on your flight
day you too will fall in love with my little girl. See
Maggie in Action!