Meet The Elite Balloon Instructors

 

 

 

Elizabeth Wright-Smith, EBI 4/2020-4/2022:

Wright-Smith, from Albuquerque, NM, is owner and currently serves as Chief Flight and Ground Instructor for Airborne Heat, LLC a Part 141 flight school and full-service hot air balloon company. Wright-Smith has been a pilot for over 40 years and has accumulated over 4,700 hours.

As an instructor, Wright-Smith began giving pilot training in 1985 and has trained more than 400 students while accumulating over 2,000 hours of flight instruction given. Michael Heenan, Airline Transport Pilot- Multiengine land - DC9, BE-1900, EMB-120, BE-300, Commercial Pilot- Single Engine Land and LTA Balloon, Flight Instructor- Single and Multiengine, and Instrument, writes that, “after training hundreds of airplane pilots with over 2,000 hours as a flight instructor and receiving training to obtain multiple pilot ratings, I can say that Beth Wright-Smith was one of the best instructors that I have had in my 30+ years of flying."

As an educator, Wright-Smith has developed private and commercial curriculums as well as teaches a yearly private and commercial ground school in Albuquerque. She also speaks at numerous safety seminars every year.

Wright-Smith has provided great service to the aviation community and has kept her own professional education up to date. She currently serves the ballooning community as a Designated Pilot Examiner and volunteers as a FAASTeam Representative. She has served on the board of directors of the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association, Balloon Federation of America, and Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

Click to Download Elizabeth's Press Release!

Adam Magee, EBI 4/2020-4/2022:

Magee, from Swisher, IA, was a co-founder and currently serves as President of The Balloon Training Academy a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to hot air balloon education and training. Through The Balloon Training Academy Magee’s pro-bono contributions have helped over 125 new pilots earn their private hot air balloon certificate over the last three years.

As an instructor, Magee is regarded as theoretical instructor with a keen ability to make complex topics relatable and understandable to all.

As an educator, Magee has developed private and commercial ground school courses, private and commercial training syllabus, practical exam preparation courses, and numerous continuing education courses.

Magee has provided great service to the aviation community and has kept his own professional education up to date. Magee was appointed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a Designated Pilot Examiner for hot air balloons. He was the first balloonist to be named the 2019 FAA District and Central Region Flight Instructor of the Year. Magee is highly regarded as a national speaker and author on balloon safety. He was the first balloonist to publish in the FAA Safety Briefing Magazine and his hot air balloon training articles can be read in every issue of the Balloon Federation of America’s BALLOONING Journal. Magee also voluntarily serves the FAA as an FAA Safety Team Representative, WINGSPro, and DronePro. Magee has created courses for the FAA Safety Team WINGS program specifically for hot air balloons. He was a reviewer/contributor of the new LTA Balloon Airman Certification Standards (ACS) which will replace the LTA Balloon Practical Test Standards (PTS).

Click to Download Adam's Press Release!

Patrick A. Smith, EBI 3/2020-3/2022:

Smith, from Frederick, MD, is the Program Manager for the Lighter Than Air Insurance Program offered by Aviation Insurance Resources (AIR). AIR offers hot air balloon insurance for individuals and commercial operators.

As an instructor and educator, Smith holds a commercial lighter than air, airplane single and multi-engine, instrument CFI and CFI-I ratings. Patrick has given over 2,750 hours of instruction and was previously an instructor pilot and regulatory information specialist for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA). Smith has developed training curriculum and has helped numerous students achieve their dreams of becoming pilots.
Smith has provided great service to the aviation community and has kept his own professional education up to date. As a property casualty insurance agent, licensed in all 50 states, Patrick provides counseling to hot air balloon pilots and owners. Patrick is an advocate for safety and training pushing the industry forward. Smith attends many hot air balloon safety seminars across the Country. He was first introduced to ballooning in the early 1990s by his mother at a balloon event in Maryland and has logged over 1,150 hours of time in hot air balloons. He also operates the largest balloon operation in Maryland, Tailwinds Over Frederick Hot Air Balloons.

Click to Download Patrick's Press Release!

Kim Magee, EBI 2/2020-2/2022:

Magee, from Swisher, IA, was a co-founder and currently serves as Vice President of The Balloon Training Academy a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to hot air balloon education and training. Through The Balloon Training Academy Kim has helped over 150 students pass the FAA Knowledge Exam for hot air balloons.

As an instructor, Magee has successfully trained many students to their LTA balloon rating. With student’s, Magee is regarded as practical instructor always inserting new scenarios for a student to consider and learn from. Mastering the fine details, Magee is highly regarded as the final check ride preparation instructor.

As an educator, Magee has developed a pre solo written exam, and helped train a number of students through ground instruction. Students who’ve taken The Balloon Training Academy have described the course by saying, “I wanted to let you know that I passed my private written with a 92%. I passed my check ride and the DPE said that I was very prepared. I do think your course helped me prepare for sure.” – Mike Lorentz

Magee has provided great service to the aviation community and has kept her own professional education up to date. Magee currently holds 6 World and 9 National Records in hot air balloons. Magee is a valued and sought after speaker on the hot air balloon Continuing Education speaking circuit, having presented at numerous seminars across the USA including the National Convention in Philadelphia in 2018. Magee also serves the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as a FAA Safety Team Representative, WINGSPro, and DronePro.

Click to Download Kim's Press Release!

Roger Clark, EBI 1/2020-1/2022:

Clark, from Greer, SC, has just under 4,000 flight hours and passed 39 years of active flying experience in July 2019. Clark has owned his own flight school and balloon company since the late 1980’s.

As an instructor and educator, Clark has successfully trained many students to their LTA balloon rating. Clark is an active flight instructor with 777 hours of flight training given. Clark also organizes and instructs a yearly ground school. As an FAA Safety Team Representative, Clark is active with regional pilots on many safety initiatives.

Student Joseph Hurdt recommended Clark by writing, “he is passionate about ballooning and is always eager to teach and assist others in any way. On the ground, Roger's advanced knowledge and understanding of weather and various meteorological tools are crucial for pre-flight planning. In the air, his calm demeanor puts students at ease, while conveying the FAA's Practical Test Standards and demonstrating invaluable piloting skills.”

Clark has provided great service to the aviation community and has kept his own professional education up to date. Clark is organizing and is the Director of the upcoming BFA Southeast Youth Balloon Camp to be held this summer.

Click to Download Roger's Press Release!

Kent J. Barns, EBI 12/2019-12/2021:

Barnes, from Murray, UT, currently serves as Assistant Chief Instructor at Balloon the Rockies, a part 141 Flight School. He began with Balloon the Rockies in 2008 as a flight instructor. Barnes has over 1,550 hours LTA PIC time which includes over 680 hours of providing instruction to students.

As an instructor, Barnes has successfully trained many students to their LTA balloon rating. With student’s, Barnes is regarded as calm, yet effective. Former student, Derek Mortensen, recalls, “I lacked confidence in my first few lessons. In hind sight, I made some ridiculous errors, but Kent always remained cool and collected. His ability to foresee a balloons path is remarkable.”
As an educator, Barnes has developed a pre solo written exam, and private pilot training guide. Barnes has also organized a local safety seminar – orchestrating scheduling, venue and speakers. The seminars are known to be well run and provide great learning opportunities.
Barnes has provided great service to the aviation community and has kept his own professional education up to date. Barnes is recognized by the local FAA FSDO as being the “balloon person” for the office. Barnes is highly regarded by the FAA for his “dedication to safety, passing his knowledge on to future generations of balloonists, and passion.”

Click to Download Kent's Press Release!