OUR PILOTS

Our Pilots Have Flown More Than 50,000 Hours, Serving More Than 275,000 Passengers. All Our Pilots Are FAA Certified And Have Nearly 200 Years Of Combined Experience.

Scott Appelman

Scott Appelman is the founder and president of Rainbow Ryders, Inc.- the largest balloon ride business in the United States. Rainbow Ryders operates 26 balloons...

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David Bair

Dave has been involved in ballooning since the late 1970’s and owned his first balloon with his brother in 1990. His introduction to ballooning was...

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Kris Braden

Kris Braden began ballooning in 1984 when he was 7 years old; that’s when his dad bought his first balloon. He went on to get...

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Troy Bradley

Troy received his private pilot certificate at age 16 and commercial pilot license at 18. He has flown over 5,800 hours and more than 20,000...

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Dean Donley

Dean was stationed here in Albuquerque while serving in the US Air Force. In 1989 he went the Balloon Fiesta & volunteered to crew. He...

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Thomas Forenz

Tom is a life-long aviator. He holds several FAA certifications including commercial lighter than air pilot and airframe and power plant technician with inspection authorization....

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Neil Freedman

As a former Air Traffic Control Specialist in Tulsa, OK and Albuquerque, NM, Neil Freedman brings a strong aviation background to Rainbow Ryders. Neil is quite...

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Matthew Haase

Matt found his love of flying from his father, who was a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter pilot. Many early memories involved him crawling around in...

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Kyle Laxton

Kyle found his love for the sport of ballooning on the east coast, in Pennsylvania. Back in 2011, after being in the Marine Corps, he...

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Daniel Liberti

Daniel was literally born into ballooning.  Growing up in Albuquerque, his entire family was heavily involved with Balloon Fiesta, which means he got to go...

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Brooke Owen

Growing up in a ballooning family, Brooke is a second generation balloon pilot. After obtaining his balloon repairman certification he turned his attention to flying...

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Paul Petrehn

Paul received his private pilot’s license in 1993 and his commercial license only two years later in 1995. You’re in great hands when you fly with...

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Jesse Roholt

Jesse began crewing balloons as a part-time summer job before his sophomore year of high school. Crewing became a hobby on the weekends through the...

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Alfred Salazar

Alfred Salazar began his involvement in ballooning in 1997 when he started crewing for award-winning balloonist Richard Abruzzo.  Alfred obtained his private rating in 2006...

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Patrick Stevens

My grandmother always took me to the local balloon race as early as I remember. My first flight as a passenger was with my mother...

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Steve Trieber

I have had a passion for aviation since childhood. Started flying airplanes in 1974, balloons in 1978. FAA certificated Airline Transport Pilot. Commercial Pilot Single &...

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Andy Williams

Don’t let his youthful looks fool you, Andy first got involved in ballooning in the late 70s in Iowa at a Nationals Competition. He began...

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