Our Pilots

Originally from Czechoslovakia, Petra Wilson is an FAA certified commercial hot air balloon pilot and flight instructor.  She is a U.S. Navy Veteran who moved to Hot Springs, South Dakota with her family in 2015. She has been flying balloons for over 8 years and is the founder of the Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival, where she is the Balloonmeister, directing all flight activities during the festival each year.  

Petra is the primary pilot of Western Horizons Hot Air Balloons.  Rich Olstad and Dave Christensen are also FAA certified commercial hot air balloon pilots who fly for Western Horizons Hot Air Balloons.






 

Rich Olstad is a fifth generation Fall River County resident.  His vast knowledge of the area  suits him well for flying in the Southern Black Hills.  Rich was introduced to ballooning by Petra, when she moved to the area. 

Dave Christensen has been flying hot air balloons since 1984.   He and his family have been very involved in ballooning and he is proud to have a daughter that is a third generation balloon pilot.

Petra, Rich, and Dave have established an excellent safety record and pride themselves on offering a safe and enjoyable experience to all who fly.

Our Balloons

Spirit in the Sky

This is a 120,000 cubic foot balloon manufactured by Lindstrand Balloons.  It can carry up to 5 passengers, not including the pilot.   It is capable of carrying a total passenger weight of up to 800 pounds (May-October) and up to 1,000 pounds (November-April).

Kaleidoscope

This is a 90,000 cubic foot balloon manufactured by Aerostar.  It can carry up to 4 passengers, not including the pilot. It is capable of carrying a total passenger weight of up to 400 pounds (May-October) and up to 600 pounds (November-April). This is the only balloon we have with a bench seat.  The other balloons are standing room only.

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Zippity Dooha

This is a 90,000 cubic foot balloon manufactured by Aerostar.  It can carry up to 4 passengers, not including the pilot. It is capable of carrying a total passenger weight of up to 400 pounds (May-October) and up to 600 pounds (November-April).

 
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