Roy Smith has been contributing to future of kids and the joys of spectators as the Balloon Miester for  Monroe Life Magazine’s Muscadine Balloon Festival since it began 4 years ago.  Last year was Roy’s final opportunity to serve the kids, the pilots and the community.  This spring, he surrendered an epic fight to a 6 year battle with cancer.

Roy’s joy was helping kids in hopes for the adults they would become.  He did it through service in this festival and also through his contributions as Vice President of the Shiloh Riders; a local motorcycle club that raises money to provide a Christmas for the children of East TN who would otherwise miss a few presents and the love that accompanies them.

His joy and passion live on in those who were close to him and even in those he never got to meet.  It is with glad hearts and knowing Roy’s desire to see this event be a success that we continue his efforts.  This year, we will fly in memory of  our friend and leader, for the kids.  – Thanks Roy.


We are proud to present this year’s balloon pilots! These balloonists from the great states of Tennessee, Iowa, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia will be bringing over 150+ years of combined experience and a diverse collection of vibrant balloons with them to the festival. Our pilots have flown as far as Australia and Costa Rica in search of the most beautiful landscapes many people only dream about. They come from diverse backgrounds, have been in numerous competitions and races and have perfomed aerial stunts. Do not miss some of the greatest pilots in the world. Come and enjoy the sights and sounds of some of the most elaborate balloons known to man.

Steve Davis, 2017 Balloon Meister

Steve is a new resident of Blount County with his wife Amy and their two boys, Beaux and Spruce. Amy Davis is Roy Smith’s daughter. Steve has been a licensed pilot since 1985 and has logged more than 2000 hours in 35 states and five countries. Some of his favorite locations to fly include the mountains of Montana and Costa Rica. In the late 1990s, Steve also began using a balloon as a platform from which to skydive. This led to the involvement of performing aerial stunts involving a balance beam between two balloons, rope ladders and tea parties on top of balloons.

Sam Parks
Owner/President of Parks Quality Air, Inc. and Parks Balloon aviation, Inc., Sam has been flying balloons since 1988. An avid Hot-Air Balloon Pilot, advancing to commercial rating in 1989 and gas balloon rating in 2000, he has logged more than 1,400 hours of flight time and 161 in gas balloons. Sam is the current President of the Balloon Federation of America. He is the founding member and past president of the Iredell Aeronauts Society and Aero Club of America, North Carolina Chapter LLC, as well as past president of the Carolinas Balloon Association. In 2011, Sam achieved the title of Assistant Balloon Meister of the Albuquerque International Balloon Festival, the world’s largest balloon festival, graduating into the role as Balloon Meister in 2013 and 2014. Sam has flown balloons in Canada, England, Japan, Australia and Austria.

To book a balloon ride with Sam contact him at

Meredith Bennett
Meredith is from Columbus, OH and has been involved in the ballooning community for over 15 years, with piloting her balloons for over 12 years. She has been travelling to rallies throughout Ohio, North Carolina, Indiana, New Mexico, and Michigan and is excited to add Tennessee to her list. This is her first time flying in the Muscadine Balloon Fiesta and is very excited to be invited to attend and fly her new balloon Moonshine for you all this year.

David Bristol
David Bristol is from Georgia (though he is based out of Knoxville) and has been flying hot air balloons for over 34 years. He is a Commercial hot air, Commercial Gas balloonist, Student Helicopter Pilot and an Commercial Airline Pilot with American Airlines. East Tennessee is one of his favorite places to fly a balloon. The views are breathtaking, he says, and the local people make him feel at home. He is excited to once again be a part of the Great Muscadine Balloon Fiesta. This year he will be bringing two balloons: “Orange Crush” and “Blessing N D-Skyz”. To book a balloon ride with David contact him at

Steve Turner
Steve is President of Gemcorp, Inc, a fine jewelry and gemstone appraisal service in Atlanta, Georgia. Gemcorp services the public, banks, insurance companies, the jewelry trade and attorneys for estate and equitable distribution matters. His hobbies include flying airplanes and hot air balloons, playing guitar and most importantly, sharing precious moments with his four grandchildren. Steve began aviating at the tender age of 18, earning his fixed-wing private pilot license. He went on to earn his commercial license with instrument privileges and later both his private and commercial lighter-than-air endorsement. He was drawn to hot air balloons because “ they make people smile!”

To book a balloon ride with Steve contact him at

Danny and Marie Campbell
Dan Campbell has been flying hot air balloons since 1973 (44 years) and is the Chief Pilot and Z-Balloon Adventures owner/operator. An avid Hot-Air Balloon Pilot, Dan averages between 120 to 190 flights a year. Dan is also a Special Shape Pilot and he owns several unique balloons. Dan holds numerous Hot-Air Balloon records and awards. In 1998 he ranked 1st in the nation in the Balloon Federation of America’s Long Jump Competition. In addition, Dan holds the distinction of being Iowa’s furthest flying pilot. In 1998 Dan also became the first pilot in Iowa in over 24 years to fly in the dark. Dan has a LifeTime membership in the BFA (Balloon Federation of America), since 1989. Dan is also a BFA Level VII Prominent Aeronaut and a FAA Safety Wings Program Level 12 Pilot. In the last few years, Dan has flown in China, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Canada and Mexico as well as all over the US. Campbell flies 1-2 Balloon Races a year as the balloon ride business keeps him busy at home. Dan was also ordained as a Minister in 2001 so as to allow him to conduct balloon weddings and cremation scattering ceremonies.

To book a balloon ride with Danny contact him at or call (515)265-2402. (Thursday morning and evening; Friday, Saturday, Sunday & Monday mornings)

Tom and Pat Rousch
Tom Rousch has been flying balloons since 1980, and has been a fixed wing pilot since 1956. He has over 2,000 hours, has flown in three World Championships, and competed in 20 National Championships. He has flown in about 10 foreign countries, began flying in the East Tennessee area in the early 80’, and has been Flight Director at about 25 events over the years, including the WOKI and the Pellissippi events. He is the Western Region Director for the Carolinas Balloon Association, a Balloon Federation of America Master Flight Instructor, and The Regional Representative for Cameron Balloons.

Wayne Fortney
Wayne Fortney lives in Kingsport and has been flying his balloon named Rosie since 1996. His entire family enjoys the sport, and he even met his wife on a balloon ride in Bristol, Virginia. Wayne has attended rallies all over the US and Canada and attends The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in October for the 12th time. Wayne’s Team Mantra: “We launch with passengers…We land with friends.”

Joseph Hurdt
Joseph owns Excite Tech Inc, a technology and consulting firm in Shelby, NC. He enjoys working in a field where ideas and solutions are ever-changing. As unique and exciting as his daily tasks may be, nothing compares to ballooning. Joseph’s enthusiasm for the sport began after receiving a surprise birthday flight, and he has been flying or dreaming of flying since. For Joseph, ballooning is about bringing families together; his own, as well as a growing community of pilots and crew. His greatest reward, however, is seeing the sense of wonder and amazement in the eyes of the children and families he’s met while piloting SunCatcher.

Brian and Mandy Hoyle
Brian Hoyle is from Raleigh, NC, and has been involved with flight since the 1980’s, though only recently became a pilot in 2005. Brian runs Hot Air Marketing, a marketing consulting firm specializing developing promotions, experiential marketing, public relations and social media marketing strategies with partners at the agency and brand levels. His balloon “Papa Red” is one of the nation’s few wheelchair accessible balloons. The Hoyles dedicate much of their balloon work with Papa Red and a portion of proceeds from tethered rides to Project Uplift USA, an all-volunteer group founded by Brian, committed to promoting Americanism and volunteerism through its annual Freedom Balloon Fest held Memorial Day weekend honoring Gold Star family members. Throughout the year, the organization works to provide hot air balloon experiences for military families and children living with mobility challenges and they offer free, K-12 STEM-based educational enrichment programs using hot air balloons as a teaching tool.

Marc Klinger
Marc Klinger and his wife Ursula currently reside in Troutman, NC. Marc has worked for Piedmont Plastics, Inc. for the past 25 years and is currently the company’s Chief Information Officer. They maintain a small farm in Troutman, North Carolina with some friendly donkeys, chickens and other wildlife. Both Marc and Ursula are both rated balloon pilots and have been involved in ballooning for over 27 years, clocking 750 hours. Marc is involved with the Carolinas Balloon Association, a regional balloon organization, as well the Aero Club of America, currently the only active Gas Ballooning organization in the US. Marc also flies competitively being recognized as the most improved rookie in 2016, finishing 13th nationally.

To book a balloon ride with Marc contact him at

Daniel Sasser
Daniel has been involved in ballooning since he was six years old. He attended a balloon rally with his family and has been hooked ever since. Currently living in the Charlotte, NC, Daniel has had the opportunity to fly all across the southeast, and has even flown in ‘the big one,’ Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico. Daniel enjoys sharing his passion with friends, family, and all the cool people you meet along the way. He is thrilled to be returning to beautiful east Tennessee to participate in this event, which is one of his favorites, and fly along so many friends for such a worthy cause.

To book a balloon ride with Daniel contact him at or call (843) 819-0757.

Phillip MacNutt
Originally from Hammond Louisiana, Phillip now lives in Salisbury, North Carolina with his wife Renee. In 1986 he received his private pilot’s license for hot air balloons, and then advanced to a commercial rating 3 years later. In 2001, he received his gas balloon rating. With over 1,000 hours to date in balloons, Phillip has flown in 17 states within the US, and also has flown in France, Germany, England, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, The Netherlands, Mexico, and Austria. In 1994, he built his first balloon system, and then went on to design and construct several more systems including a gas balloon that he flew several times in the America’s Challenge gas balloon race, as well as a replica of Ed Yost’s famous “Silver Fox” transatlantic gas balloon. Phillip, along with co-pilot Richard Abruzzo flew the 2005 Gordon Bennett gas race, launching from Brussels Belgium and landing 3 days later in eastern Finland near the Russian border, a total of nearly 2,000 kilometers in distance. Phillip has also been quite involved in high altitude balloon work with 3 flights above 20,000 feet, including a flight to 32,000 feet. He has spoken on the subject as a featured speaker at a BFA safety seminar in Houston, Texas. In October 2002, BFA President Phil Bryant presented the BFA Director’s award to Phillip for his contributions and spirit in ballooning. In 2012, Phillip achieved the highest available level (Distinguished) in the BFA’s Pilot Achievement award program.

Jayme Nelson
Jayme is from Anderson, SC and has been in the ballooning world since she was born. Her father, Jim Hendershot, has been a pilot for over thirty years and taught her how to fly. She enjoys traveling to balloon events around the southeast with her parents, husband, and daughter. Her balloon, Palmetto Paws, represents her love for Clemson and her home state of South Carolina.

Drew Egerton
Drew is a second generation pilot from Statesville, NC, and has collected over 520 hours in balloons after receiving his license at 22, after receiving an Engineering Technology degree from Western Carolina. After attending his first balloon event at 16 months old, both of his parents pursued their pilot’s licenses. His first balloon ride was at the age of 4 over Knoxville during one of the many events in the East TN area they attended. Drew’s favorite passion in ballooning is competition, where pilots use winds at different altitudes to steer the balloons to a target. Drew has won events in NC, SC and OH and has finished 6th at the National Championship twice. He also serves in several volunteer positions with the Balloon Federation of America’s Competition Division.

Roger Clark
Roger Clark is a passionate pilot with over 3,900 hours in balloons, and certified 15 pilots. He has flown in most of the largest festivals, many states and about every type of balloon. He has been a flight instructor, ground instructor, safety seminar instructor, balloon manufacturer worker (HEAD) and am currently a FAAST Team member for the Southern Region. He flew for the following major sponsors among others: Ziploc, Re/Max, Longhorn Steakhouse, Coors Light, Crafted with Pride/Made in USA, WSPA-TV7, WESC-92.5 FM, Freedom Weekend Aloft and numerous individual banner events and sponsors. He was the staff meteorologist for the BFA Nationals in 2006 & 2008 and the weather officer for Camden Balloon Rally (1991), Balloons Over Anderson (2010-2016), Freedom Weekend Aloft (2011-2014) and the Carolina Balloonfest in Statesville (2011-2017). He has also taught at the CBA Safety Seminar in 2011 and 2014, Safety Seminar at Sea in 2012-2014 and 2018 and BFA Approved Southeast Regional Ground School/Safety Seminar in 2012 and 2013. While his flying has been predominately in the Southeast, he has been around the BFA Nationals and the World’s and is familiar with the needs of the ballooning community at large.

To book a balloon ride with Roger contact him at

Mike Sumrell
Mike started ballooning in 2000 as a hot air balloon crew member where he became hooked on the sport. Shortly after getting bitten by the ballooning bug, Mike started working on the Crew Achievement Award Program administrated by the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) and he earned the highest possible level, Master Crew Chief. In 2004, he earned his private pilots certificate for lighter than air aircraft. In 2014 he purchased Cloud 9, his first hot air balloon. Mike then started working on earning his commercial certificate for hot air balloons which he achieved in 2016. Mike’s wife Shelia is his crew chief and she is now working on her pilot’s certificate for hot air balloons. We love the sport, the camaraderie with fellow balloonist and sharing the joy of lighter than air flight as we meet new friends. Follow us on Facebook at Cloud 9 Hot Air Balloon of Georgia.

Anthony Seeger
Anthony received his license in 2006 and travels to over 15 events every year. Before he was a pilot he was a part of the volunteer crew at the local festival in Greenville, South Carolina. His love for ballooning started at a young age, he was only 11 months old when he attended his first balloon festival.

To book a flight with Anthony contact him at or call (864) 420-2025.