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Balloon Pilots

With over 11,000 hours of combined Hot Air Ballooning experience, the pilots of Balloons Above The Valley have been leaders in the hot air ballooning community. They are all FAA approved pilots and have dominated the skies in California, Arizona and Africa. Dedicated and strong, they have gained a reputation as forerunners in Hot Air Ballooning, setting standards for others in safety, education and passenger service.

Your Hot Air Balloon Pilots:

Bob Barbarick

A native of the Napa Valley, Bob started flying balloons in 1977. He has extensive knowledge of the art of ballooning, with well over 5,500 hours of flying balloons. Whether it be riding the winds, scuba diving, flying his airplane, skiing or river rafting, Bob is a mild mannered adventurer. He works hard and is dedicated to keeping the balloon business safe, exciting and enjoyable for every passenger that flies with Balloons Above the Valley. His easy-going personality makes him your ideal guide when floating over the beautiful wine country.

JP Gagnon

J.P. has been with Balloons Above The Valley since 1999 when he moved to the Napa Valley to support his wife’s dream of running a Bed and Breakfast. We love men that support their wife’s dreams! He started his ballooning career in the Napa Valley and trained with some of the most experienced pilots available. J.P. is known as the “Jack of all trades” here at the company offering assistance in all areas of the business. In his off hours, J.P. can be found fishing anywhere he can. His smoked salmon is scrumptious!

Scott Carroll

Scott started ballooning in Phoenix, AZ in 1987, where he owned and operated his own balloon company for several years. He joined the Balloons Above the Valley team in 2008. Scott’s ballooning adventures have taken him from coast to coast where he has flown in numerous balloon events, most notably several years participating in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest event of its type in the world. Scott’s other avid interests include sailing which he began at an early age on Lake Michigan in Chicago. When Scott is not floating peacefully above the vineyards of Napa Valley, you can find him and his wife of 28 years sailing the waters of San Francisco bay aboard their sailboat Muzique.

Jeff Downes

Jeff has been in and around ballooning since the mid 90’s. Started as ground crew, afraid of heights, had NO interest in going up in a balloon, was tricked into his first flight, fell in love with the experience and has hence agreed with Leonardo da Vinci’s words “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” Jeff has flown in events in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Reno, Nevada and has flown commercially in the Sonoma Valley, before coming “over the hill” to us in the Napa Valley. Jeff still does not like heights, however he says the awe of every experience in a balloon is worth it. When not flying, Jeff enjoys spending time with his family, sharing his faith, traveling, being outdoors – on a hike or on a beach.

Rollie Little

Rollie became involved in ballooning in 1990 while helping a friend out in a balloon repair station. Who knew that time in a repair station would eventually lead to his Balloon pilot’s license and then a Commercial LTA rating? Since achieving these ratings Rollie has had the privilege of flying in locations from one coast of the United States to the other. Rollie has had the opportunity to fly several special shape balloons including the Lady Bug Balloon, the ING Direct Ball and Sara the Witch. While flying Sara the Witch in the 2007 AIBF, Rollie took first place in the Special Shapes Rodeo competition. Rollie also has experience in the world of corporate ballooning.  Rollie enjoys all aspects of Hot Air Ballooning but his favorite part of ballooning is sharing in the thrill of flight for a first time passenger.

Kevin Flanagan

Kevin Has been flying hot air balloons since 1984. He has flown in France, Switzerland, England, all around the US, Mexico, Canada and most recently Fiji. He also specializes in corporate hot air balloons for company’s like Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Wendy’s and 3TV in Phoenix. He has even flown balloons for the NFL at two Super Bowls.

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