You’ve seen them out with the balloons, but how much do you know about the Hot Air Expeditions staff? Get to know the people that make it all happen with our Staff Q&A! This time we are checking in with our Director of Operations, Kim Young, we hope you enjoy!
Position at Hot Air Expeditions: Director of Operations
Hometown: Phoenix AZ
How did you get into ballooning?
I was studying aviation in college and accidentally found ballooning, it was love at first flight! It was 1989 when I first began crewing for a hot air balloon company part-time. In 1992 I sunk my teeth in and started full-time and got my balloon repairman’s certificate. From there, I acquired an FAA-certified repair station. I began doing work for Hot Air Expeditions in 1994 and we ended up merging operations into one building in 1997. Ballooning has given me so many unique experiences that you can’t get anywhere else! My Dad told me when I was young to do what you love…I truly can not think of any other thing that I would like to do every day.
Where’s the coolest place you’ve ever been ballooning?
There are many places I have ballooned…all are hard to compare! I have flown in the Black Hills in South Dakota, the Red Rock Valley and White Sands areas in New Mexico, Palm Springs, Del Mar and Napa Valley in California, as well as Colorado Springs, Rocky Point Mexico, and of course, all over Arizona. They are all beautiful in their own ways but I’m biased to my home here in Arizona.
Any tips for first time passengers?
You need to do this for fun and for the amazing uniqueness of free flight ballooning. There is nothing like hovering over the desert and watching it come to life for the day! Knowing what you are getting into makes all the difference. Don’t hinder yourself on this experience! Just remember to bring close toed shoes.
You wake up at an ungodly hour, how do you get going?
I have always been a morning person, never a night owl. I like to wake up around 2-3am; it’s my personal time to prep, have coffee and check the weather. One aspect that is unique to ballooning is that every flight is different. You never know what kind of flight you’re going to miss by not getting up early and heading out!
What can we find you doing in your spare time?
I’m basically the “soccer mom.” I’m a single dad who loves my kids; I have three in marching band, and one in track. I’m shuttling them around, and being an active parent to support them in their efforts.
Ballooning is on many a Bucket List, what’s on yours?
I’ve never been to Alaska, and I’d love to see and explore the area. Lots of different terrain to experience.