July 24-26 2020

Solberg Airport - Readington, NJ 973 882 5464

Countdown to Festival Fun

 

Until the 2020
 Quick Chek New Jersey
Festival of Ballooning!

 

 

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A Pilot's View

BEHIND THE SCENES: A PILOT’S VIEW - BALLOONMEISTER JOHN PIPER

“We’re going to fill the sky with colorful balloons, this is the place you’re going to want to be,” said John Piper, Balloonmeister of the 38th annual New Jersey Festival of Ballooning in Association with PNC Bank.
 
An experienced hot air balloon pilot with more than 25 years of experience, John has been flying at the Festival since 2001. Solberg Airport is his home base for ballooning. 
 
“What’s really unique about this Festival, and a reason why you should come, is that you have the rare opportunity to see this many balloons at once,” said Piper, noting the Festival’s status as the largest summertime hot air balloon and music festival in North America. Up to 100 sport and special shaped balloons are scheduled to fly this year.
 
Piper is in charge of coordinating all balloon activities for all five scheduled mass inflations and ascensions for the pilots from all over the country who will take to the skies over the scenic Hunterdon County countryside. He oversees balloon crew teams and coordinates ride activities with our balloon ride operations team.
 
 
He also conducts extensive briefings including the latest weather conditions with our pilots prior to each of our mass inflations and ascensions and coordinates each flight with New York Air Traffic Control to assure aircraft separation and safety. 
 
“Ballooning is one of the safest means of flying that there is and the physical layout at Solberg Airport is open and favorable to flying no matter which way the wind may blow,” said Piper. “We all want to see the balloons in the sky. We work very hard to make sure that our pilots and our patrons enjoy themselves in safe and secure surroundings.”
 
“Not only can we fly in any direction here, but there’s something to do in any direction, too,” he added. “You can go some place to see balloons. You can go to a concert. You can go to a carnival. You can shop at a mom-and-pop store. You can eat great food. Here, you can see and do them all in one place in a great family atmosphere.” 
 
John knows all about balloons and family entertainment --- he is the Senior Director of Production at the Macy’s Parade Studio, where he oversees the production of all balloons, floats and elements for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. The Parade Studio also produces large scale events for Macy’s such as the upcoming Fourth of July Fireworks, in-store holiday events and numerous spring flower shows.
 
John took his first hot air balloon ride in 1984. Like so many other pilots, that led him to buying his own balloon. He then became a crew member, then an observer, and then emcee for the Hot Air Balloon Jubilee in Jackson, MI. He received his private hot air balloon license in 1993, his commercial license in 1994. When he moved to New Jersey in 2001, he starting flying here at the Festival. 
 
“Since I was a little kid, I’ve been enamored by everything that flies. Kites, planes, balloons. I’ve been trying to get off this planet all my life!”