Flying the Friendly Skies

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Capt. Bill got his first exposure to hot air ballooning when he got a ride as a birthday present,
in 1986. Being a hands-on kind of guy, he insisted on helping out with the inflation process.
After his ride in the “Golden Eagle” with pilot Jess Darnall, he recruited and become a member
of the crew. The two years Bill crewed with the “Rich Witch” and “Golden Eagle” balloon team
all over the southwestern U.S. as an official member of the “Yellow People”

In 1988 Bill began pilot lessons with Jess Darnall and his wife, Diane Thomas as instructors.

In March of 1989, Bill soloed after only eight hours of instruction, and was subsequently promoted, having finished “ground school,” with a total of 9 hours as a student pilot and a successful solo flight.

In April 1990, Capt. Bill, bought his first hot-air-balloon from the postmaster of Gilbert, AZ.
re-named it “Dragon’s Breath” and took it to the White Mountains of Arizona, where he was
the postmaster of Lakeside. Bill then proceeded to re-learn LTA flying in a high altitude and mountainous environment. Talk about the “school of hard knocks!”

In 1994, Capt. Bill was issued his “Commercial LTA” rating; with more than 600 hours
of accumulated time at the throttle and having used up 2 balloon envelopes! The “DE” Jim
Peak, was a great judge of pilot potential! As a side-note:  The FAA initially refused to issue
a certificate to Capt. Bill—he had been given the wrong test for “Commercial LTA” license—
he’d taken and passed the written test for Commercial Blimp operations! After re-taking
the written exam, he received his ticket and the rest is HISTORY!

January 1995, Capt. Bill went to Europe to fly balloons in Austria, over the Alps, in the
Dachstein area. He flew passengers and sponsors in a brand-new 90,000 cubic foot Thunder
and Colt “American Airlines” logo-ed balloon. The lesson learned: No matter how smart
you think you are, when you look at the Alps from 12,000 feet above, “you realize you are
nothing but a speck of dust on the eyelash of God—if he blinks, your time is over!”

For the next 10 years Capt. Bill flew a succession of LTA aircraft in many locations in the
U.S. and internationally.

In 1996, Capt. Bill flew in his first Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta!

In 1999, Capt. Bill became postmaster of Steamboat Springs, Colo. He took his piloting
skills to a new level, flying in the Rocky Mountains and learning to fly “special shape” bal-
loons through his good friends, Roger and Kelly Baldwin. With Roger’s guidance he success-
fully flew “The Duckie” and “AeroNut,” a 135-foot tall red squirrel hot air balloon. Bill’s PIC
hours were over 1,100 before he retired from the USPS in June 2004.

Within a week of retirement, Capt. Bill was flying for the local commercial balloon company.
Flying 10 passengers at a time in 210,000 cubic-foot ride balloons, one to two hours a day,
further developing his flying skills.

In March of 2006, Capt. Bill was recruited to fly in Sedona, AZ by one of only two companies licensed to operate balloons in the “Red Rocks” area and  national forest. He flew 6 passenger, 160,000 cubic ft. balloons, five to seven days a week. 

Capt. Bill then spent the summer season in Pagosa Springs, Colo., flying 180,000 and
280,000 cubic ft. balloons with 6 or 10 passengers at a time, for Mike Marchand of “Rocky
Mountain Balloon Adventures.” He also went on an adventure to Canada, flying the “Duckie”
in Ste. John-Sur-Richilieu, Montreal.

January 2007, Capt. Bill was recruited to fly commercially in Palm Springs, California. 

In the first week of April 2007 he accompanied friends, Roger and Kelly Baldwin,
to New Zealand to pilot the second squirrel balloon, “HazelNut” for three weeks. 

2006 Capt. Bill flew in Albuquerque’s Intel. Balloon Fiesta his first time, as a commercial contractor for Mike Marchaund. The next Fiesta he flew his own commercial balloon.

At the 2008 Fiesta, Capt. Bill flew “Sara-The Good Witch” a special shape balloon for
his best friend, Patrick Nilz, and again at the 2009 Fiesta.

2009, Capt. Bill acquired his own special shape balloon, “Puddle Jumper!” and flew as
Pilot-in-Command with Puddle Jumper in 2010 and again in 2011.

The summer of 2010, Capt. Bill toured the USA and Canada piloting a 125 ft. tall Jack-in-
the-Box balloon in several events, driving over 10,000 miles during that successful tour.

Capt. Bill has logged over 2,300 hours as Pilot-In-Command—piloting hot-air balloons
from 31,000 cubic ft. to 280,000 cubic ft. Experienced in flying special shape balloons in
the United States and around the World, he is available to pilot and manage the operations
of your Lighter-Than-Air craft from any place and at any time!

Captain Bill Butler

970-846-3736 cell • 575-434-8692 Home

hotairbill@yahoo.com  www.PuddleJumperBalloon.com

Copyright © 2012 Puddle Jumper. All rights reserved.

Let PJ, our truely unique attraction showcase your next event.

Capt. Bill: hotairbill@yahoo.com or call 970-846-3736 for more details.