Hudson Hot Air Affair :: 2018 Balloons


Hot Air Affair Balloon Launches

Balloon Launch

All launches are from E.P. Rock Elementary School
at 13th & Summer Streets, Hudson WI


Morning Balloon Launch: Saturday, January 27th at 7:35 a.m.
Afternoon Balloon Launch: Saturday, January 27th at 3:00 p.m.
Moon Glow or Field of Fire: Saturday, January 27th at 6:30 p.m.
Morning Balloon Launch: Sunday, January 28th at 7:35 a.m.

The latest announcement on weather and flight information will be posted on the home page or facebook before scheduled balloon launches on Saturday and Sunday.

Additional balloon and sponsor information will be added as it becomes available. Please check back later for more balloon listings.

Northern Lights

Balloon Name: Northern Lights
Pilot: Missy Cool-Junker, Stillwater, MN
Sponsor: American Family Insurance/Tammy Belisle Agency

More info to come.

Northern Lights

Balloon Name: Northern Lights
Pilot: Mike Murray, Stillwater, MN
Sponsor: American Family Insurance/Tammy Belisle Agency

More info to come.

Cloud Nine

Balloon Name: Cloud Nine
Pilot: Mark Nabor, Big Bend, WI
Sponsor: Anderson Heating

Welcome back sponsor Anderson Heating and balloonist Mark Nabor for their fifth year together.  Mark works in information technology and has been a pilot for 9 years.  He says he looks forward to participating with the sponsors each year with his 1997 Firefly balloon.  Thanks to Anderson Heating and volunteers Richard and Sharon Young—who help promote Hot Air Affair year round.  They recently dressed as the Snow Queen and Royal Guard for HHAA at the Ice Castles in Stillwater.

Cotton Candy

Balloon Name: Cotton Candy
Pilot: Corey Gaddis, Sioux Falls, SD
Sponsor: Belle Vinez Winery

More details to come.


Balloon Name: Blaser
Pilot: Rick Piendel, Annville, PA
Sponsor: Blaser Swisslube

More details to come.


Balloon Name: Scotch
Pilot: Larry Nickolay, Newport, MN
Sponsor: Catalyst Sports Medicine

Here’s one of HHAA’s favorite combos. Catalyst Sports Medicine owner John Knutson, a founding committee member of HHAA, and pilot Larry Nickoly have been together nearly every year since HHAA started in 1990. Larry’s got the experience with 40 years in ballooning and 1,400 hours as pilot. Congrats to John for being the Grand Marshal of the Torchlight Parade this year—we love your smoosh boarding!

Liberty Bell

Balloon Name: Liberty Belle
Pilot: Bill Marhoun, Belview, MN
Sponsor: Comfort Suites of Hudson

Welcome back Comfort Suites of Hudson—you’ve been a balloon sponsor of the Hot Air Affair since opening in Hudson.  The hotel is paired with Belview, MN pilot Bill Marhoun.  Bill’s been ballooning for 18 years with 500+ hours as pilot in command. 


Balloon Name: Touchdown
Pilot:  Zach Burgess, Louisville, KY
Sponsor: County Market

More details to come.

Valley Girl

Balloon Name: Valley Girl
Pilot: Jim Wohlwend, Lakeland, MN
Sponsor: Dick’s Bar & Grill

Jim was on the pilot roster when the HHAA started 29 years ago and has flown more than 1800 hours since.  He’s flying for long-time HHAA supporter Dick’s Bar & Grill.  Jim can be found flying the fleet of balloons at Aamodt’s Hot Air Balloon Rides and helping support the Hot Air Affair year round.  Thanks to everyone at Dick’s for the countdown event for kids—great pictures and great breakfasts too!   

Airganic Garden

Balloon Name: Airganic Garden - Family Fresh Market
Pilot: Bennett Schwontkowski, Cary, IL
Sponsor: Family Fresh Markets Hudson, New Richmond, and River Falls

Here’s a crowd favorite—the special shape balloon Airganic Garden sponsored by Family Fresh Markets.  The balloon features state of the art inkjet printing for the attention getting design that includes two giant monarch butterflies, two red tomatoes, a 25 foot tall apple basket, strawberries, peaches, cinnamon sticks, a classic barn, five cows and two horses on a vivid blue and green background. 

Blue Loon

Balloon Name: Blue Loon
Pilot: David Koenig, Menasha, WI
Sponsor: First National Community Bank

More details to come.

Jill & Tedd’s Excellent Adventure

Balloon Name: Jill & Tedd’s Excellent Adventure
Pilot: Tedd Maxfield, Austin, MN
Sponsor: First State Bank and Trust

Welcome back this fifth year balloonist and sponsor combination.  First State Bank and Trust in downtown Hudson likes being a balloon sponsor and Ted likes flying in Hudson.  The balloon has flown in several states and has made many friends with people all over the country. Tedd’s a 11 year pilot with 153 hours as pilot in command. 


Balloon Name: Moonshadow
Pilot: Anne Christensen, Chisago City, MN
Sponsor: Deanna & Mike Grigus

More details to come.

Not Yet Named

Balloon Name: Not Yet Named
Pilot: John Rucker, Genoa City, WI
Sponsor: Hudson Ford

This is John’s seventh year as a pilot at Hot Air Affair, having been a crew member in Hudson for four years.  He’s been flying for 7 years and has 241 hours in the air.  This is the 8th year sponsorship for the local automotive dealership under current ownership and a long time balloon sponsor prior to that.  Thanks

PH One

Balloon Name: PH One
Pilot: Pete Asp, Sullivan, WI
Sponsor: Hudson Hot Air Affair

More details to come.

Air America

Balloon Name: Air America
Pilot: Larry Konash, Burnsville, MN
Sponsor: Hudson House Grand Hotel

More details to come.


Balloon Name: Grand Euphoria II
Pilot: Rich Jaworski, Blair NE
Sponsor: Hudson Vintage Neighborhood Alliance

Rich and the Hudson Vintage Neighborhood Alliance group are quite the team!  Look for them at the Torchlight Parade Friday night—they’re always a highlight.  Rich has been flying for 46 years with 2,800 hours logged as pilot in command.  He holds many aviation records and we’re thrilled that he continues to visit Hudson each year.  Number of years?  “15 or so—who’s counting” is his answer!

Sedona Sunset

Balloon Name: Sedona Sunset
Pilot: Glenn O’Connell, Gilberts, Il
Sponsor: Lift Me Up Balloon-John & Evy Nerbonne

Glenn and his sidekick Brian Schwontkowski, along with Hudsonites Nancy and Gary Fouks, have been the foundation of the Lift Me Up Balloon for many years.  They provide a balloon ride each year to someone touched by cancer.  The HHAA experience lets a cancer patient step away from his or her daily challenges to enjoy a lift up flying in Sedona Sunset.  Glenn’s also a favorite volunteer at the local schools for education or special programs.


Ridin High

Balloon Name: Ridin High
Pilot: Terry Dorshorst, West Salem WI
Sponsor: Living with Dementia Balloon/FirstCall Medical Monitoring/St. Croix Electric Cooperative

More info to come.

Full Throttle

Balloon Name: Full Throttle
Pilot: Pete Riehle, Forest Lake, MN
Sponsor: Loparex, LLC

Pete’s a former Hot Air Affair Balloonmeister and he’s paired with his employer as a sponsor.  He’s a technical director of the Loparex plant in Hammond.  Pete’s been flying for 25 years and has logged 350 hours as pilot in command.  In addition to his own balloon, Pete helps Aamodt’s Balloons and Stillwater Balloons as a pilot for their companies in the St. Croix Valley…he even has a balloon named for him!

Nifty Gadget

Balloon Name: Nifty Gadget
Pilot: Chris Keefe, Cross Plains, WI
Sponsor: Mallory's Restaurant & Rooftop Bar

Welcome back balloon sponsor Mallory’s!   You’ll be flying with an old friend of HHAA—we’ve traveled the ballooning circuit with Chris for more than 20 years watching him crew for others and now piloting his own balloon.  Mallory’s is one of Hudson’s new restaurants—the perfect place to start your HHAA weekend before the Torchlight Parade Friday night.  Check out their menu and enjoy live music too.

Jacks UpSky

Balloon Name: Jacks UpSky
Pilot: Rod VanWyngeeren, Waukesha, WI
Sponsor: MidWestOne Bank


More details to come.

Uncle Sam

Balloon Name: Uncle Sam
Pilot: Frank Urbanski, Dakota Dunes, SD
Sponsor: MidWestOne Bank

More details to come.


Balloon Name: Flo
Pilot: Don Dumke, Florence, WI
Sponsor: Minuteman Press

More details to come.


Balloon Name: Bubbles
Pilot: John Bullock, Genoa City, WI

Sponsor: Pier 500

More details to come.


Balloon Name: Sparky
Pilot: TJ Olson, Sioux Falls, SD
Sponsor: PressEnter!

More details to come.


Balloon Name: RE/MAX
Pilot: Mike Sommer, Deer River, MN
Sponsor: RE/MAX Results

Welcome back to Mike who will be flying the popular red, white and blue balloon in Hudson this year.  He’s been a balloonist for 36 years, logging 600 hours as pilot in command.  Look for Mike and his RE/MAX balloon in the media flight and Torchlight Parade.  RE/MAX has been listed in every HHAA brochure since 1991.  Thanks for the incredible support!


Balloon Name: RE/MAX Maximum Exposure
Pilot: Ken Walter, Waukesha, WI
Sponsor: RE/MAX INTEGRA, Midwest

Ken’s back this year with his RE/MAX balloon.  We appreciate Ken’s help with media flights, school programs, the Torchlight Parade and our balloon event committee each year.  Ken is a corporate RE/MAX pilot covering the entire Central, Southern and Eastern parts of Wisconsin.  He’s a traveler too—we hooked up with Ken in Lake Havasu City, Arizona a few weeks ago—great event in warmer weather!

Air Forge

Balloon Name: Air Forge
Pilot: Mike Reinert, Alta, IA
Sponsor: Richard Pierce Memorial Flight

A 27-year pilot with more than 650 hours in the sky, Mike holds a commercial rating for his Firefly balloon.  He’s back with a special program again this year.  Richard Pierce was a passenger in HHAA 2010 and lost his battle with cancer shortly after the event.  His widow Kathy (and HHAA committee member) is again partnering with the Hudson Relay For Life to offer a balloon flight experience to another cancer patient or survivor.  Have fun Cindy!

Hocus Pocus

Balloon Name: Hocus Pocus
Pilot: Dale Dommer, Ottumwa, IA
Sponsor: St. Croix Lanes

Dale says 2018 marks 26 years of flying balloons and he has no plans to stop anytime soon!  Dale and his new wife Natalie bought a restaurant in downtown Ottumwa last summer—a big hit and it’s kept them very busy.  You’ll find Molly Johnson and her family crewing for Dale.  She’s an active HHAA volunteer helping to coordinate pilot activities—thanks for all the hard work!

Ski Lift

Balloon Name: Ski Lift
Pilot: Bob Pulaski, Pineville, LA
Sponsor: Amanda Francescato/State Farm Agency

More details to come.

Pete's Baby

Balloon Name: Pete's Baby
Pilot: Steve Jacobs, Stillwater, MN
Sponsor: Stillwater Balloons

More details to come.


Balloon Name: Sabrina
Pilot: Mike Klawitter, Eland, WI
Sponsor: The UPS Store

A private pilot and owner of a hardwood flooring company, Mike has been flying balloons for 28 years.  He’s been a HHAA pilot for more than two decades and flies a 77,000 cubic foot Head balloon.  The crew from The UPS Store helps out with printing many of the HHAA materials—check out this year’s school program booklet put together by Mary Martin and Jacki Bradham!

US Bank

Balloon Name: US Bank
Pilot: Scott McClinton, Prospect, KY
Sponsor: US Bank-Hudson

More details to come.

Cloud Dancer

Balloon Name: Cloud Dancer
Pilot: Bill Bucher, Shorewood, IL
Sponsor: Viking Electronics



Balloon Name: Phoenix
Pilot: Mike Lesmeister, Rochester, MN
Sponsor: Viking Electronics

More details to come.

Starburst of Destiny

Balloon Name: Starburst of Destiny
Pilot: Bethany Reuter, Mapleton, MN
Sponsor: ViXX Converting/Anchor Paper Co.

Rubber Duckie

Balloon Name: Rubber Duckie
Pilot: Bob O'Brien, Waupaca, WI
Sponsor: WESTconsin Credit Union

More details to come.

Little Cindy

Balloon Name: Little Cindy
Pilot: Lindsay Berger, Stillwater, MN
Sponsor: Woodland Hill

More details to come.

April Love

Balloon Name: April Love
Pilot: Steve Johnson, Duluth, MN
Sponsor: Zappa Bros.

Making his 21st visit to Hudson, Steve’s again paired with charter balloon sponsor Zappa Bros.  Steve’s a professional pianist & entertainer who also enjoys aerobatics.  He’s flown more than 2 dozen types of aircraft including sea plane, amphibian & biplane.