Soaring Over Ripon Balloon and Kite Festival

Soaring Over Ripon Balloon and Kite Festival, formerly named Color the Skies began in 2005 and is an annual event held on Labor Day weekend (1st weekend in September) at Mistlin Sports Park in Ripon California. This year the event dates are September 2/3, 2017. Balloon inflation begins at approximately 6:30 am with airship and hot air balloon flights, tethered balloon rides, carnival activities, food, vendors and more.

The purpose of this wonderful event is to raise awareness, and to provide financial support to Valley Children's Healthcare. The hospital is located in Madera County, just North of Fresno off Avenue 9 and Highway 99. Valley Children's is the second largest Children's Hospital in California, treating more children than all of the Northern California Children's Hospitals combined.

Valley Children's Healthcare is building new facilities and partnerships and is comitted to continuous expansion in order to provide every Central California family access specialized pediatric care, ultimately within 30 minutes of their home.

The new Valley Children's Pelendale Specialty Care Center is expected to open in Modesto in the fall of 2018.

Color the Skies - Soaring Over Ripon - ©Photo by John Wynn

2017 Pilots and Balloons

Valley Children's Airship - Amelia Airship - © Cheers Over California, Inc
Valley Children's Healthcare - Amelia Airship
Pilot Crispin Williams - Bristol, United Kingdom

A resident of Langford, Somerset, UK, Crispin Williams started ballooning in hot air balloons in 1974 with the Anglia Aeronauts Ascension Association after 13 years as a fixed wing pilot, including time in the Royal Air Force as an RAF Navigator. Once he discovered ballooning, however, he gave up flying heavier-than-air aircraft. He achieved his private pilot’s license (PPL) in balloons in 1974 and flew in the first UK National Championship in 1975. Crispin and his wife and crew chief Sara have attended every UK National Championship since then. An accomplished balloonist, Crispin has been the highest placed pilot at a World Championship and can normally be found in the top ten finishers at European Hot Air Balloon Championships.
In addition to being a world-class competitor, he is also a pilot instructor and a Private and Commercial Pilot License examiner for the Civil Aviation Authority for balloons and airships. He is also a balloon and airship inspector for the British Balloon & Airship Club.

Valley Children's Healthcare - Cheers

Valley Children's Healthcare - Cheers

Pilot Brent Rolland - Los Altos, CA

Brent's first experience ballooning was as a crew person while attending High School. 10 years later, a chance introduction to some new neighbors rekindled the flame -- and now he's been flying for over 25 years! For Brent, it's the peace, the (usually) slow pace and the people he meets along the way that make the sport so great!"

RE/MAX Balloon


Pilot "Magic" Bob Locklin - Clovis, CA

Magic Bob (a professional magician and college business instructor) took his first balloon flight in 1997 and it was love at first flight. He started crewing for another pilot and was soon taking flying lessons. He bought his first balloon, "Magic’s Fantasy" in 1998. Magic Bob has flown all over the western states and even in Leon, Mexico. He holds a commercial lighter than air pilots certificate and has trained many new pilots.
Magic Bob’s favorite quote is one of Leonardo DaVinci’s, “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned sky ward, for there you have been and there you long to return.”

Lauren and David Ball - Gypsy Spirit

Gypsy Spirit

Pilots Lauren and David Ball - Cherry Valley, CA

Jeff Haliczer - Syncronicity


Pilot Jeff Haliczer - Reno, NV

Jeff started ballooning in 1983 when he met a pilot in Gallup, NM and worked as a crew member for him for a number of years. After a couple of moves and finally landed in Reno where he eventually met another pilot who helped him finish his pilot certificate. He earned his private certificate in 2002 and commercial in 2007, now flying for fun and to share the gift of flight with others. Jeff flies year round, averaging 100 hours a year, doing fun flights and traveling to events.
Jeff also has two special shaped balloons and has flown in Taiwan for the Taiwan International Balloon Festival.

Paul Heiken - Spherical Turtle

Spherical Turtle

Pilot Paul Heiken - Albany, OR

Don Heisig - Mariposa II

Mariposa II

Pilot Don Heisig - Holt, CA

Don Heisig flies Mariposa II. He lives at Roberts Island Aerodrome in Holt on the California Delta. In addition to California, he has flown events in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada and Leon, Mexico. His wife Linda is also a pilot and Don's Crew Cheif. They have been active in ballooning since 1997, crewing and then getting their first balloon in 2004. Don and Linda received their pilot certificates together in 2006.

Patrick McGrath - Top-O-The-Morning


Pilot Patrick McGrath - Yucaipa, CA

Gale Mott - Shadowdancer II

Shadowdancer II

Gale Mott - Fresno, CA

Gale Mott flies Shadow Dancer II out of Fresno, Calif. His love for flying began at a young age and he has a passion for anything that flies!! He has had the opportunity to fly fixed wing and gliders, but still waiting for his jet!! Gale has been flying balloons since 1986 and is happy to be here in Ripon, sharing the joy and supporting Valley Children's Hospital!!

Brann Smith-Sundancer


Pilot Brann Smith - Chico, CA

Brann Smith had his first experience with hot air ballooning over 20 years ago, when this unique sport became his passion. He completed his commercial pilot training in 1999 and began flying in Oregon with his own company. Brann says he believes hot air ballooning is not just about flying, but the people you encounter and the wonderful experience and memories we create together.
Brann has flown in seven states; Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico and now California. Currently living in Chico, California, he is again flying as a business and giving back to the community where he grew up. His hope is to share the joy and serenity of floating through the air with as many people as he can, to inspire the feeling of freedom and adventure to the hearts of others.

Dana Thornton - Free Spirit

Free Spirit

Dana Thornton - San Jose, CA

Dana started his aviation addiction in 1977 when he earned his private pilot’s fixed wing license. Soon after, He got the ‘lighter than air’ bug when he started crewing for his older brother on his hot air balloon in 1978. He received his commercial balloon license in 1980. Dana started making balloon flights in the dark before sunrise, called ‘Dawn Patrol’ flights in 1981 and continues to do so today. He has flown in every ‘Dawn Patrol’ flight at the Great Reno Balloon Race since 1984. 2017 will make it the 34th GRBR ‘Dawn Patrol’ year.
Dana has over 800 hours of fixed wing time and 1800 hours of hot air balloon time. He has flown to greater than 18,000 feet five times. He has flown at speeds of 46 MPH in a hot air balloon. He has flown over the Diablo Mountain Range from the Morgan Hill area to the Central Valley four times. He has flown as far as 56 statute miles away from his take-off point in a hot air balloon. His crew gave him the nickname ‘Boomerang’ because there have been many flights where he was able to find winds that would allow him to navigate back to the same field that he took off from.

Karalyn Mumm - Farmers Daughter

Farmers Daughter

Karalyn Mumm - Reno, NV

After growing up on a farm in Minnesota and moving all over, Karalyn eventually moved to Reno, NV and attended the Great Reno Balloon Race in 2011. She fell in love with balloons and began volunteering for GRBR, crewing for local pilots and helping with High Sierra Balloon Camp. She decided her next step was to become a pilot. She purchased her balloon, “Farmer's Daughter” in 2015 and completed her pilot certificate one year later in 2016.
She's excited to share her love of the ballooning with anyone and everyone who agrees that it's the BEST REASON EVER to set your alarm clock!

Dan Walsh-Distraction X

Distraction X

Dan Walsh - Redlands, CA

Dan Walsh became licensed as a balloon pilot in 1983 while living in Illinois. Dan spent his leisure time flying over corn fields and negotiating the Illinois winds. Dan and his wife Wendy moved to Redlands, CA in 1986. Their adult children are married and they have 6 grandchildren. Now in retirement, they like to travel and balloon as much as they can.

Doug Adamczyk - Gem


Doug Adamczyk - Fairfield, CA

Doug's interest in ballooning and aviation started at the age of 5 when he lived in Albuquerque, NM. It was not until he was in high school in Ohio before he had the opportunity to crew for a balloon pilot. That hooked him and he's now been crewing for over 30 years.
Ten years ago Doug received his pilots license for single engine airplanes. Then, in 2013 he jumped at the opportunity to buy a balloon and received his Lighter Than Air rating one year later. He is currently a member of Northeast Ohio Balloon Pilots Association, the Balloon Federation of America and also the Pacific Coast Aeronauts. Doug has also flown balloons in 5 states and participated in multiple balloon festivals in CA, OR, NY, OH, and MI.

David Lester - EasyRiser


David Lester - Tracy, CA

David has been with the sport of ballooning since July 4th, 2003, when a hot air balloon wandered over his house from the Tracy July 4th festival. He bought his own balloon in 2006 and has been enjoying piloting since then. Mostly flying out of Tracy California, he tends to go where good friends and fun take him.