Our pilots are sourced from all over the world; flying the summer months in the Southern Hemisphere, and winter in the Northern, always practicing their trade. 

We are pleased to have our pilots on board and would recommend any pilot for your next flight with Picture This Ballooning

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Pete Wright

"Melbourne is a fantastic city and the best view of it is from my balloon basket!" says Pete, one of our fantastic Melbourne pilots. Pete has been flying passengers with Picture This Ballooning for many years and relishes the variety he experiences by being able to pilot our entire array of Special Shape and passenger balloons in various locations around Australia and internationally (most recently he took our "OVO" egg shaped hot air balloon to Taiwan to promote the Cirque du Soleil show). 

Pete has loved all things aviation from a very early age - reading books on aircraft and flying occupied the bulk of his time as a kid, but it is the gentle art of hot air ballooning that has captured his imagination as an adult. "It's the purest form of flying," he says, "but most of all I love the challenges and surprises ballooning gives me, challenges which are different every day". 

Pete's dedication to ballooning has seen him become a flying instructor, and Vice President of the Balloon Association of Victoria. When he is not working, he has a keen interest in competition ballooning and consistently ranks in the Top 5 in National Championships. He has also competed at World Championships in Austria and Japan. 

Pete is a Melbourne boy born and bred, whose greatest joys are his wife Catherine and two daughters, Isobel and Samantha. He loves footy in the winter and Melbourne's parks, gardens and restaurants throughout the rest of the year.

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Andy Kaye

Andy has 27 years balloon flying experience in balloons of all types, sizes and shapes, and is a hot air balloon pilot instructor in the UK. He brings his extensive talent from the UK each year to join us for our summer season. He has competed in competitions worldwide, won long distance trophies in the UK, flown the ‘English Channel’ twice and flown the Alps regularly crossing borders between Italy, Austria and Germany.

Andy is known worldwide for his collection of special shape hot air balloons and operates 10 of these shapes himself including his latest - a 50m high Snow White Doll. Andy attends many festivals worldwide with his shapes and has covered the whole of Europe, Japan, Israel, America and now Australia. This makes him a particular asset flying our special shape hot air balloons, including the Carlton Draught Pot, SportsBet's ‘Christ the Redeemer’ and Nudie Juices character.

Andy joins the Picture This Ballooning team to bring his hot air ballooning experience and to share the aerial sights of Melbourne with you. He loves a chat while flying over the city, and is a great asset to our team. Andy is very friendly and once you get chatting to him over your Sofitel breakfast you will find it hard to silence that Northern England, Manchester accent.

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Jeff Laurie

Jeff’s parents started ballooning in the late 70's in Calgary, Canada, the early days of ballooning. Jeff started learning to fly when he was 16 with both of his parents training him. He attained his licence at 17 and started his flying career flying passengers over the city of Calgary. He flew all over Canada until he was hired to fly in the Yarra Valley in 94 at age 30.

Jeff loves the Australian ballooning scene and permanently stayed working all over Australia, before getting work in Kenya in 1999 in the Masai Mara game reserve. Jeff worked there for four years, but couldn’t deny his connections to Australia, where he returned to ballooning and became a citizen in 2004. Jeff was attracted to all sorts of aircraft, so he spent five years flying air planes and small planes in various parts of Australia, before finally settling into being a Melbourne and Yarra Valley pilot with Picture This Ballooning in 2014.

For Jeff, life is more than just "work." - a good balance of life, adventure and work is what he strives for as a pilot with Picture This Ballooning.  

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Viktor Myazov

Viktor began ballooning in 1997 when the very first Hot Air Ballooning company “Chkalov” in the Samara region, opened.  He also has 60 B.A.S.E. jumps and over 1600 parachute jumps, and as he says “it’s not over yet”.

Viktor won a big tender to manage the project “Yellow Submarine” in 2005. Viktor also piloted the special shaped hot air balloon “Yellow Submarine”, flying over 60 cities in Russia for 3 years. People have seen him flying his balloon from Red Square in Moscow, over Saint Petersburg and over many of the iconic locations in Russia. It was the biggest and craziest project ever held in Russian hot air ballooning history.

In 2007 he immigrated to Australia followed by the love of his life with the hope to finally settle and to start a new adventure - family.

As a commercial pilot he flew in Western Australia, Tropical North Australia and about 2 years ago Viktor joined our friendly Melbourne team as a Senior Pilot with two decades of experience and more than 1500 flight hours. Outside of piloting, Viktor Myazov explores other professional opportunities such as being the Maintenance Manager.

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Simon Beare

Daylesford is an idyllic place to go ballooning - there are bushlands, mountains, water courses and more to enjoy from above.

Simon Beare and Kristeena Saville form our core Daylesford Ballooning team and they have their own classic style.

Simon has been a hot air balloon pilot for twenty five years and has spent over half of that devoted to familiarising himself with the local area and working with the uniqueness of the micro climate.

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Chris Dewhirst

Chris Dewhirst started flying hot air balloons over 30 years ago, and launched Australia's first commercial hot air ballooning operation in 1980.

In 1991 he was the first person to fly a hot air balloon over Mt Everest and the expedition was the feature of a one hour documentary called "Fire in the Wind" seen in more 70 countries.

With support from the City of Melbourne and the Victoria Tourism Commission, Chris founded ballooning over the city of Melbourne, one of the few cities in the world to have regular scheduled hot air balloon flights above the CBD.

Chris has held the Australian high altitude balloon flight record (36,600 feet). He has received multiple awards for his aviation achievements, including the prestigious Montgolfier Diploma awarded by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale, the Oswald Watt Gold Medal, Australia's most prestigious civil aviation award and the UK's Salaman Trophy.

We are fortunate to have such an experienced and enthusiastic balloonist and we are grateful to Chris for his foresight in establishing regular passenger ballooning operations over Melbourne. Without his pioneering efforts, our flights today may never have been possible.

Richard Turnbull

Richard began his ballooning life at the age of six with a flight out of RAF Abingdon in Oxfordshire on 16th September 1967 to commemorate ‘Battle of Britain’ day. His father Wing Commander Gerry Turnbull was in command, and on board was his sisters Christine and Noel Mulliner.

The family connection to ‘lighter than air’ aviation lead to him acquiring his Private pilot’s licence for hot air balloons in February of 1979 at the age of eighteen. A couple of years later, in April of 1982 he gained his Gas balloon rating, enabling him to fly the more traditional hydrogen or helium filled balloons, using sand as ballast to control flight. Later on that same year he was recruited by ‘The Royal Bank Of Scotland’ airship unit, and gained a rating to fly hot air airships. Richard operating these balloons, for the next four years, over both Scotland and England.

Richard has also been involved with many of our special shapes operations such as the ‘Mike the Monster’ {Monsters Inc.} tour from Brisbane to Melbourne, the Canberra Balloon Festival in 2006 with Nudie and the famous ‘Tampon Superheroes’ tour with the Libra ‘Lucky box’ balloon team.

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Ronald Kent

Ronald first became involved in ballooning in 2005 and became an instant addict to hot air. His passion for ballooning has seen him fly in many locations across Australia. His extensive experience allows him to fly balloons involved in exclusive bookings such as wedding proposals, large group bookings, corporate advertising and special shape balloons. Ronald is an Australian Balloon Federation instructor and examiner and in 2011 became an Australian record holder flying a whopping 168.7 km in a small one man balloon. He also holds a CASA issued maintenance authority for balloons. When not flying balloons for Picture This Ballooning Ronald enjoys flying his own small balloon as a keen member of the Balloon Association of Victoria.