Our 2022 Pilot Lineup!

We are happy to introduce the pilots registered for the 2022 Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival. Not only do we have our local pilots, we have representation from across Alberta, BC through Ontario. We anticipate our international friends from the United States, United Kingdom, and Belgium will be able to participate again this year.

Enjoy becoming familiar with the pilots and their balloons so you'll know who is in the sky when we fly. As of July 2022, we have 25 entrants. That number may increase or decrease over the coming weeks as details are finalized. 

Foothills Signs logo
  • Competitor: #1

  • Pilot: Dale W. Ritchie

  • From: Golden BC

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

HIIBF 2020 - Dale Ritchie

5 Time Canadian Hot Air Balloon Champion

Dale Ritchie has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1978 when he flew for sport, then began flying commercially in 1979. In 43 years of flying, Dale as over 4500 hours in the air noted in his log book. He has balloon licenses in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom and has flown in 8 countries. As a Certified Flight Instructor, Dale has trained many pilots over the years and is a balloon Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.

  • Balloon: Emily

  • Call Letters: C-FJAV

  • Type: Sundance SBA77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - Dale Ritchie: Emily

World Traveller

Emily was built in 2006 and made her inaugural flight in Motegi, Japan at the 2006 World Hot Air Balloon Championship. Over the past 15 years she has flown at a number of festivals and competitions for the last fifteen years. You may recognize Emily as a familiar face from past Festivals in High River.

Discover more about Dale Ritchie's hot air ballooning adventures.

Shaw Business logo
  • Competitor: #2

  • Pilot: Brant Leatherdale

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

HIIBF 2020 - Brant Leatherdale

Local Flyer

Brant Leatherdale is a pilot from Calgary where he lives with his wife, Tara, and children and is self-employed. Brant mainly flies in Western Canada and has attended major ballooning events in the USA and Mexico. Having attended every Festival since 2013, Brant is looking forward to flying the skies over High River again this year.

  • Balloon: Herbal Magic

  • Call Letters: C-GHER

  • Type: Firefly 8B 15

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - Brant Leatherdale: Herbal Magic

Magic in the Air

Herbal Magic is a familiar sight at the Festival and will be flying once again. The bright green envelope is easy to spot from the ground given its striking contrast against the blue sky.

See more about Brant Leatherdale's wishes for the Festival.

Pro Image Promotional Products

  • Competitor: #3

  • Pilot: Del Michaud

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021, 2022

Del Michaud

Mountain Man

Del Michaud is just shy of his piloting golden anniversary of piloting having received his license in 1974. He has competed in several Canadian Balloon Championships and is a former Canadian Balloon Champion. Del's skills are known on the world stage as well. He has flown internationally in 15 countries and represented Canada at 6 World Balloon Championships. Two of Del's most unique ballooning experiences have been flying in the Canadian Rockies and the Swiss Alps.

  • Balloon: Pepe Le Pew

  • Call Letters: C-GXLU

  • Type: Balloon Works FF7B

  • Size (volume): 65000

  • Category: Sport

Pepe Le Pew Hot Air Balloon

Flying Romantic

Pepe Le Pew returns to High River once again as the near rainbow in the sky without a raindrop to be seen.

See what else Del Michaud has been up to.

Hitchin Post Drive In
  • Competitor: #4

  • Pilots: Cathy Dudgeon

  • From: High River AB

  • Attended: 2021, 2022


Sequins of Events

Cathy Dudgeon's love of ballooning began in the 1980's but she focused on career and family until 2013 when the Festival came to High River. Cathy volunteered as a crew member and became hooked all over again. After 7 months of training, she became a licensed pilot in March 2021. She is also known for sewing mini balloons and sequined vests. You may have met Cathy at an Intro to Hot Air Ballooning or Crew Training workshop where she combines her love of teaching and ballooning. Her sights are set now on becoming a flight instructor.

  • Balloon: Maryann's Treat

  • Call Letters: C-FRMN

  • Type: Cameron O-77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


A Dream Come True

Maryann's Treat is named in honour of Cathy's mother, Maryann. With the support of friends, family and the ballooning community, Cathy used the inheritance from her mother to purchase well-used but still well-loved equipment to pursue her dream of learning to fly a balloon. Be sure to note Maryann's Treat call letters so you can identify her in the sky. She is the older twin of another balloon in the Festival.

Learn more about Cathy Dudgeon's flying journey so far.

Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival 10 years
  • Competitor: #5

  • Pilot: Bill Dickinson

  • From: Rolling Hills AB

  • Attended: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022


Ballooning in the Blood

Bill Dickinson first took to the skies with some thin fabric and a bunch of hot air in 1993. It was love at first flight and he became hooked on ballooning. Bill began pilot training in 2001 and became a licensed pilot in December 2002. Since then he has flown in locations from Billings MT through to Grand Prairie AB and looks forward to exploring more places from the sky and ground. Bill and Annette, his wife, enjoy farming outside of Rolling Hills AB, although it does cut into flying time. 

  • Balloon: Geppetto

  • Call Letters: C-GFPH

  • Type: Galaxy GLX 7

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


Love of a Woodcarver

Geppetto became Bill's flying partner in 2013. The patchwork of red, orange, and yellow brightens the skies every time she flies.

Read more about Bill Dickinson's ballooning adventures.

Heritage Inn logo
  • Competitor: #6

  • Pilot: Peter Van Overwalle

  • From: Belgium & Ennis MT USA 

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2021, 2022


World Traveller

Peter Van Overwalle's journey to become a pilot started as a passenger in 1997. The next step was crewing in 1998 and then received his pilot's license in 1999. He flew commercially in Belgium for 12 years until family business matters required more of his time. Peter has 1100 hours in his log book with flying a range of balloons from a cloudhopper to 300,000 cubic feet. Ballooning has taken Peter around the world having flown in 20 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America.

  • Balloon: Princess Nelly

  • Call Letters: N917PN

  • Type: Kubichek BB30Z 

  • Size (volume): 105000

  • Category: Special Shape

Princess Nelly Hot Air Balloon

Princess Nelly

Princess Nelly will brighten the skies with her bright pink complexion, goofy smile, and big silver crown. She is the youngest, but most regal sister of Nelly (grey) and Nelly B (pink).

Read more about Peter Van Overwhalle and Princess Nelly's adventures.

Bearcom logo
  • Competitor: #7

  • Pilot: Cliff Skocdopole

  • From: Condor AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021, 2022



Cliff Skocdopole's love of hot air ballooning began with a Father's Day ride in 2009. By early 2010, Cliff received his pilot's license. Cliff has flown in the Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championships as well as the Worlds in 2018. Cliff and Sheri, his wife of over 35 years, have travelled to numerous festivals across Canada, the USA and internationally. Cliff loves ballooning for the peaceful times in the air, being at the mercy of the wind, bringing smiles to faces and meeting great people.

  • Balloon: Northern FLights

  • Call Letters: C-GHOT

  • Type: Kubicek BB26XR

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Racer


Glowing Sky

Northern FLights is the newest hot air balloon in Cliff's collection and one of two balloons flying in the Festival. Also note Northern FLights' slender profile indicative of a racer.

Read more about where Cliff Skocdopole loves to fly.

Dream logo
  • Competitor: #8

  • Pilot: Michael King

  • From: Sandia Park NM USA

  • Attended: 2022

Michael King

The "Southern Canadian"

Mike King’s caught the balloon bug late in life. A former US Air Force Fighter pilot, he was innocently lured into harmless crewing by his Canadian friends, the Skocdopoles and Clarks.  The next thing Mike knew, he was a full-fledged BALLOONATIC like his friends. Mike and and his bride Donna try to fly most weekends, enjoying the camaraderie of the ballooning community and meeting the enthusiastic fans at balloon events. 

  • Balloon: Upsy Daisy

  • Call Letters: N100UM

  • Type: Cameron AX8/084

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Sport

Upsy Daisy Hot Air Balloon

Uplifting Experience

Just like the words of encouragement said to children, Upsy Daisy is a big, bright daisy in the sky soaring and lifting spirits everywhere.

Read more about Michael King's ballooning background.


Rotary Club of High River
  • Competitor: #9

  • Pilot: Jennifer Podruski

  • From: High River AB

  • Attended: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

Jenn Podruski

Up in the Air

Jenn Podruski was introduced to hot air ballooning when she crewed at the 2014 Festival. The pilot took her up for her first flight and she was hooked. She pursued her pilot's license in 2017 and returned to the Festival as a pilot in 2018. When not on-call as a paramedic, Jenn has flown from various small towns across Alberta as well as Montana, BC and in 2019, the "Super Bowl" of ballooning at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. In August 2021, Jenn flew in her first competitive event at the Canadian National Championships Quebec. 

  • Balloon: Louie

  • Call Letters: C-FVEN

  • Type: Aerosport RX7

  • Size (volume): 77500

  • Category: Sport

Louie Hot Air Balloon

On That Ship, I Dream

Louie and Jenn have been partners in the sky since October 2017. Wave and say "Hi!" when you see the colour splash in the air or at the Balloon Glow.

Learn more about why Jenn Podruski's loves ballooning.

Herc Rentals
  • Competitor: #10

  • Pilot: Richard Clark

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022

Richard Clark

Fiesta Party

Richard Clark began crewing in 1989 with a fun-loving group in Calgary. The excitement of ballooning led him to get his pilot license in 1992 and fly a Calgary Balloon Club balloon. In 2001, Richard and Heather, his wife, wanted to further their experience by having their own balloon. Richard enjoys the relaxed fun of fiesta flying and views the competition component as a chance to use planning and map reading skills along with team work.  Coming close to a competition target makes for added excitement and fun.

  • Balloon: Our Treat

  • Call Letters: C-FGBY

  • Type: Cameron O77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


Delightful Skies

Our Treat in 2021 is the newest version of the original Our Treat acquired in 2001. The name was chosen based on what a treat is was for Richard and Heather to fly the skies in such a colourful balloon at events across western Canada. Make note of Our Treat's call letters so as not to do a double take with another entry in the Festival.

Learn more about Richard Clark's love of ballooning.

Sobeys logo
  • Competitor: #11

  • Pilots: Walt & Linda Then

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022


Five Decades of Ballooning

Walt and Linda Then began their hot air ballooning adventures in 1980 when Walt started crewing with the Calgary Balloon Club. Linda started crewing in 1982, the same year Walt got his pilot's license, and received her pilot license in 1990. Over the years, their travels took them to many balloon events. Walt and Linda can be seen at more local events in Alberta these days, including Raven AB every October. The Thens have hosted the Raven Festival for the last 39 years, complete with a spooky costume party .

  • Balloon: Big Toy II

  • Call Letters: C-GTHE

  • Type: Cameron O77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


A Big Toy Box

Big Toy II has flown at the Festival since 2017, replacing her predecessor Big Toy who retired after 30 years of flying.

Learn more about Walt & Linda Then's background and ballooning journey.

Rhino Waste Management - logo
  • Competitor: #12

  • Pilots: Michael Lavoie

  • From: West Ossipee NH

  • Attended: 2022

Michael Lavoie

A Lot of Firsts

Michael Lavoie and his wife took their first balloon ride in August 1981. They missed their wedding rehearsal to skydive out of a balloon. A year and two flights later they landed in the balloon for the first time. Watching their first Albuquerque Fiesta launch in 1996 was all it took for them to buy their first balloon. They flew their first Fiesta in 2000 with their first built balloon Fudly, a 56K balloon. Michael's favourite place to fly is at GEMAB in Chambley, France. will be making his fourth trip to GEMAB in 2023.

  • Balloon: Schmedley

  • Call Letters: N101TM

  • Type: Lavoie 77K2YG

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport

Schmedley Hot Air Balloon

Family of Balloons

Schmedley, built by Michael in 2008, is one of the elders in a big family of balloons. It joined Fugly (2000) and over 13 years was followed by Cat Sass, Murray, High Anxiety and then Murray's Brother in 2021. 
Learn more about Michael Lavoie ballooning background.
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