Kerry Speicher

My name is Kerry Speicher and I am hoping you will support me as I run for the position of Southwest Director for the Balloon Federation of America. 

My professional history is from a background in mechanical engineering and technical fields. I have spent years in communications working with satellite earth stations. I then transitioned into chemical production and large capital projects, next came installations of specialized manufacturing equipment and then back to communications once again. 

As for my history with ballooning, it really goes back to a love of flight.  In high school, I started to get my private pilot license but quickly ran out of money.  After high school I wanted to go to the air force academy and fly fighter jets, my eyesight knocked me out of that option. I decided to go to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and become a missionary bush pilot.  I went in as part of a group of 463 hopefuls chasing 25 available spots.  I was in the last group of 40 but was eliminated due to my age and inexperience.

At that point, I turned to gaining some experience and began working toward a degree from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas.  After college, time speeds up and you begin to allow some of those passions to pass by until you look around and find that you are now married with two beautiful girls, a career and you start looking toward the things that your family prefers.  

In 2003 time frame my family and I became interested in ballooning through the Great Texas Balloon Race.  We knew about the race and on the mornings of the flights, my wife would throw our three-year-old and one year old into their car seats still in their pajamas and drive around looking for the balloons.  When Stephanie found them, she would chase them along with all the other people following the chase vehicles.  Our success chasing was much improved when we realized our dentist Dr. Steve Baker was on the GTBR board and we began communicating with him to determine where the balloons would be launched.  My daughters were hooked the year that they were able to catch up with the balloon "Buddy Beaver" and after a morning flight the pilot asked them to take off their shoes and help him by rolling on the balloon to get the air out of all the little sections. 

The year we discovered the balloon trading cards changed how we participated in the GTBR.  My girls ran around collecting the cards until they met several families that had girls their age.  The girls invited Megan and Lillian to hang out with them and help with the balloon glow.  Every year we would go and hang out on the field with them and we developed many great friends and long time relationships. 

In 2010 we discovered the opportunity to help the balloonists by volunteering as crew members, so we signed up.  For whatever reason, we were not assigned as crew and no pilots picked us up as crew members.  The next year Jason Jones called me and told me that my family of four had been offered as crew for him but he was concerned about my daughters as they were a bit young.  I told him that they could both "saddle their own horses" and he told me that was good enough for him.  The rest was history. We began crewing every year and as soon as we knew the dates for the next year they went on the calendar so nothing would be scheduled during that time.

In 2016 or 2017 we began crewing for a local pilot, Sam Robey, in Longview who would call us on Friday evening and ask if we would like to crew for him in the morning.  Sometime during this time my youngest daughter, Lillian, told us that she was interested in learning to fly a hot air balloon.  My wife began looking for a balloon system.  The purchase of our first balloon is a story I won't elaborate on at this time.

Lillian (18 yo) solo'd in our balloon on August 15, 2020 and then left for college.  I solo'd October 31, 2020 in the midst of COVID and then was able to pass my check ride March 4th of 2021.  It has been great to be learning from so many great balloonists in the Longview, Texas area.  I am relatively new to flying as a pilot but that does not diminish my desire to do so safely and learn all I can. 

Two items I am interested in assisting new pilots and youth in is to help them understand and figure out the process to get their license.  Our sport needs a young generation interested in growing and learning from those with experience.  Another item I am interested in seeing is an easier method to share local knowledge, are there areas that I ought to stay away from and others that are friendly to balloons?  Who can I contact for assistance in a different part of the country?  There may be existing methods that I am not aware of yet but I am offering my time to serve, learn, and then share what I find.

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