MEET THE TEAM BEHIND THE JOURNEY
Owner of “BEST AVIATION” in Bally, Pennsylvania, Bert Padelt is a balloon builder by trade and runs a full-time repair station for both hot air and gas balloons. His balloons hold FAI world class records in AX (hot air), AA (gas) and AM (Rozier) categories. His gas balloons now hold distance and duration records in all but three of the fifteen categories.
He was the systems director of the late Steve Fossett’s round the world balloon attempts including his successful circumnavigation in the summer of 2002. Also, in 2002 Bert built the tetrahedron smoke balloon used in the acclaimed Japanese documentary “Return to Nazca”. It was this balloon that renewed the interest in amateur home built tetrahedron hot air balloons across the country.
He built the smallest manned gas balloon system to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean when Sir David Hempelman Adams flew this thousand cubic meter balloon from St. John’s Newfoundland to Nolay, France in the summer of 2007. In doing so, 5 FAI world class distance and duration records were set.In 2015 Bert built the Two Eagles Transpacific balloon envelope. Through its successful flight he was responsible for its logistics, assembly, launch and recovery procedures.
With the completion of this flight, he is now the only gas balloon builder to have his aircraft successfully cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
In 2011 Bert was awarded the FAI Montgolfier Diploma, the highest honor bestowed on a balloonist worldwide, for his contribution to the sport of gas ballooning.
In 2015 Bert and his wife Joanie were awarded the Sheilds-Trauger Award, the highest honor of the Balloon Federation of America for their years of work in gas and hot air ballooning.Bert is a founding member of the Aero Club of America; the first active gas balloon club in the United States since the 1950’s.
In 2015 this club received the FAI’s Group Diploma; an international award recognizing the club members’ contribution to the sport of gas ballooning. Bert is a past Chairman of the BFA Gas Division where he has sat on the board for 18 years.Bert and Joanie have been married for 27 years and have two wonderful sons, James and William.
PROF. FREDERIK PAULSEN
Professor Frederik Paulsen is a scientist, philanthropist and businessman, whose activities have grown out of biotechnology. He is also a record-breaking aviator and was, together with François Bernard, the first to cross the Bering Strait from Alaska to Russia in an ultralight aircraft. Frederik’s primary role in this mission will be to manage the equipment, which will collect data for two scientific studies that will be conducted on the flight. Firstly, this will include deploying petri dishes attached to the outside of the basket at various points in the flight to collect microbes that will be cultured and analysed with a view to identifying novel natural proteins. Secondly, managing sensor equipment measuring airborne particulate matter with particular reference to Canadian forest fires. Frederik will also be assisting the co-pilots to ensure that each person gets some quality sleep.
Explorer, aviator and entrepreneur industrialist, David was the first person to cross the Atlantic in a balloon with an open basket, and crossed for a second time in the smallest balloon that has ever made the crossing. He is the only person ever to have flown a balloon from a land mass over the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole. David and co-pilot Jon Mason were the first British team to win the Gordon Bennett balloon race, and are the only British team to win both the Gordon Bennett and the America’s Cup. He has broken 47 FAI world records. David is also a mountaineer and polar explorer and was the first person to complete the Full Explorers Grand Slam, summiting the highest peaks on all seven continents and skiing from an outer shore to the North and South Poles.
Noah has been Bert Padelt’s balloon racing copilot for seven years. They have flown together in a Gordon Bennett World Gas Balloon Distance Championship and four America’s Challenge long-distance gas balloon races, placing first in 2021.
Noah has been passionate about ballooning since the mid 1980’s when he designed and built a custom 24 ft. tall radio-controlled hot air balloon with a skydiving Bugs Bunny while studying for his Aerospace / Mechanical Engineering degree. He worked in a balloon repair station repairing & inspecting balloons as a college student and developed early CAD software to design custom balloon gore patterns, which was used to build a balloon that broke Malcolm Forbes transcontinental hot air balloon record.
After graduation from engineering school, Noah worked for Raven Industries / Aerostar International as a Hot Air Balloon Project Engineer, developing large ride baskets, burners, and interesting balloon systems for specialized uses. He then worked for Lockheed Martin Astronautics Flight Systems Group in Colorado, designing interplanetary spacecraft for NASA. “Stardust” flew through the tail of a comet and brought interstellar and cometary dust back to earth for analysis, and Mars Phoenix Lander verified the presence of water on Mars for the first time. Subsequent to this, Noah has worked as an engineer in the defense sector.
Noah is also a fixed wing pilot with several thousand hours in the air; he built a kit airplane that he’s flown all over the US, as well as Canada and the Caribbean. His custom homebuilt single-place cloudhopper balloon fits in the baggage compartment. He was the longtime Young Eagles Coordinator with his local Experimental Aircraft Association chapter, which provided free first airplane rides to several hundred children in his local community.
Noah serves as Vice Chairman of the Balloon Federation of America Gas Balloon Division, and he is passionate about working to open up new gas sources and launch sites to grow the sport of gas ballooning in the US. All of Noah’s balloons are named after Beatles songs, and his and Bert’s gas balloon “Across the Universe” is his favorite.
Kevin’s 40 year career in airline Flight Operations started in 1976 when he joined Dan-Air after leaving college. He worked his way up to run the Route Planning Department. During his time at Dan-Air he gained a private pilot’s licence to fly hot air balloons.
After Dan-Air, he joined Virgin Atlantic Airways in 1993 and soon took over the management of the Flight Technical Support department within Flight Operations. It was shortly after this that he was invited to a meeting with Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand to discuss the planning of their forthcoming round-the-world balloon attempt. He joined the operational team which worked on 3 attempts. It was on the final attempt in 1998 that he met Steve Fossett.
Steve subsequently asked him to join the operational team for his solo round-the-world balloon attempts culminating in the first successful solo circumnavigation of the earth in 2002 in the Spirit of Freedom balloon.
In 2003 was on the Mission Control team for David Hempleman-Adams successful Transatlantic balloon flight from Sussex, New Brunswick to Hambleton near Blackpool UK
In 2005 & 2006 was the Mission Control Director for both of Steve Fossett’s first solo piloted aircraft circumnavigation of the earth and the longest solo piloted aircraft flight in the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer.
In 2007 was on the Mission Control team for David Hempleman-Adams successful Transatlantic balloon flight from St John's, Newfoundland to Nolay, France.
In 2010 was ATC Coordinator on the organisational team led by Don Cameron for 54th Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett International Gas Balloon Race. In 2016 was appointed Director of Flight Planning for Straightline Aviation, a start-up hybrid airship company. In 2023 was Flight Director for Debbie & Mike Scholes Transatlantic Balloon Challenge attempt from Sussex, New Brunswick.
He was awarded The Royal Aero Club Bronze Medal in 2005 and The Royal Institute of Navigation Certificate of Achievement in 2006.
Clive was born into an aviation family, his father was a flight test engineer with British Aerospace and later Sales Engineering Director for Concorde.
Building model aircraft from the age of 6, Clive obtained his gliders licence at 18.
After full time education he decided to go down instead of up and trained as a commercial diver. At nineteen worked in the Middle East for several years on oil rigs and then spent a further 3 years in the North Sea, specialising in life support systems.
At 26 he joined the motor trade as a General Manager for a Ford Dealership, obtaining his hot air balloon licence at 29 and operating the Ford Dealership Balloon.
Set up Bailey Balloons in 1994 with his wife Jo, also a Commercial balloon pilot, one of four women in the U.K. to fly the larger balloons, and both are qualified instructors.
Bailey Balloons operates several balloons for companies together with corporate entertainment and champagne balloon flights.
Clive proposed to Jo at 8,000 feet over Bath and they left their wedding by balloon.
Flown balloons all over Europe, the Middle East, Africa and was the first European to fly balloons in Iran. Clive holds the altitude record from the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta.
In March 1999 Brian Jones and fellow pilot Bertrand Piccard completed the first non-stop flight around the world in a balloon.
Twenty-five years on, they still hold the absolute world records for distance and duration.
Prior to the round the world flight, Brian was the UK’s chief flying instructor for balloons and a CAA pilot examiner.
He was a key team member in David’s successful project to make the first balloon flight to the North Pole in 2000.
In recent years Brian has developed and executed a training plan to enable disabled students to qualify as balloon pilots.
His honours include an OBE and the Olympic Order, and awards from various institutions including The Royal Aero Club, the FAI, the Aero Club of France and the Explorers Club.
Jonathan has been involved in ballooning all of his life with his Father, Stephen, starting ballooning in 1974. Growing up with ballooning, Jonathan has attended various events in France, Switzerland & Italy,In June 2022, Jonathan gained his Balloon Pilots licence (PPL B). Later, in October 2022, Jonathan completed his first “Long Jump Balloon Flight” and won! Launching from Fromebridge Mill, Gloucestershire to a landing at Gilbert Street, Alresford, Hampshire. A total distance of 75 miles with a duration of 4 hours 40 minutes. Along with flying with fellow pilots and friends Jonathan has his eyes set on more adventures in the future including a flight to 20,000ft for charity. Outside of ballooning, Jonathan enjoys sports and working with computer technology.
Archie Miller-Bakewell has been an Official Observer for recent balloon flights in Alberta, Canada, working with Ros Smith. He lives in Scotland, and now he is retired he can join in the exhilarating sport of ballooning.
Ros has assisted Archie Miller-Bakewell in observing for a number of FAI balloon records. She has a background in science and software development.