OUR PILOTS

Our Pilots Have Flown More Than 75,000 Hours, Serving Nearly Half a Million 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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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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Jeff Gilles

Jeff has been ballooning since 1978. At four years old his parents took him for his first ride, which sparked a lifelong passion. In 1993…

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Jesse Newcomer

Jesse Newcomer hails from Lancaster City, Pennsylvania. He got into ballooning by learning the sport from the ground up (literally!). He began his career in…

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Paul Olguin

Growing up in Albuquerque, NM, the hot air balloon capital of the world, Paul has been chasing hot air balloons since he was a young…

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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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Brad Rice

Brad Rice has been flying for over 20 years and bought his first balloon right after college. He grew up with a balloon in his…

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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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