BalloonStormers, Inc., was started by Gary Sines as a part-time hot air balloon company in Jefferson City, Missouri. He opened another office at the Boone County Fairgrounds in 1993 and the next year consolidated both operations and hired an office manager to run the Columbia balloonport on a full-time basis.
Gary has over 27 years of experience as a hot air balloon pilot. He received his pilot license in 1972 after training with pioneer balloonists Tracy Barnes and Dodds Meddock. He received his commercial license later that year and opened a full-time balloon company and did commercial balloon promotions and exhibitions in over 15 states. At that time he became an authorized dealer for The Balloon Works, a North Carolina based balloon manufacturer founded by Tracy Barnes.
In 1974 Gary opened the Kansas City balloonport where he sold new and used balloons and gave balloon rides. The company also repaired balloons, trained new pilots, and organized balloon races. After moving to Jefferson City, he opened a chiropractic office and continued to balloon on a part-time basis until opening the Columbia balloonport 1994.
Gary has logged over 1,400 flight hours and earned the Balloon Federation of America Distinguished Aeronaut Award. He has flown throughout the United States and in Mexico and Costa Rica. He was nominated in 1997 and 1998 by Governor Mel Carnahan to represent the state of Missouri at the annual Governor’s Cup Challenge in Mitchell, South Dakota. Gary finished 1st place in 1998 and 2nd place in 1997.
As owner of BalloonStormers, Gary oversees all aspects of the business including the corporate hot air balloon program, the balloon ride operation, promoting Coco the Clown special shape balloon, sponsoring the Show-Me Balloon Club, and training new pilots. He also organizes balloon races and rallies.
Gary and his staff have experience organizing balloon races, rallies and balloon glows. We serve as balloonmeister for the event, invite the pilots, verify their paperwork, schedule the flights, and offer prizes for the top finishers. You get the entire package for one fee.
We currently organize the U. S. Cellular Balloon Classic held in Columbia every year on the last weekend in August.
- The Show Me Balloon Classic (1993 and 1994)
- The University of Missouri Francis Quadrangle Glow (1995)
- The U. S. Nationals Dawn Patrol (1995)
- The U. S. Cellular Balloon Classic (1998, 1999).
- Columbia, MO
- Kirksville, MO
- Rolla, MO
- Cape Girardeau, MO
- Lake of the Ozarks
- Holts Summit, MO
- Versailles, MO.
We make presentations to schools, civic and professional organizations, and businesses in order to better educate the public about the sport of hot air ballooning. The presentations include a slide show and/or video and can last from 15 minutes to two hours. For several years we taught The Basics of Hot Air Ballooning for an Adult Education class sponsored by the Columbia Public Schools.
A new addition to this outreach program is our “Walkabout Balloon.” We inflate a retired balloon envelope on the ground and then let participants walk around inside. It is a big thrill for everyone!
Corporate Balloon Management
We manage corporate hot air balloons that are used to supplement the marketing, advertising and public relations efforts for the individual companies. We make appearances with the corporate balloons at company events (picnics/grand openings/sales meetings), community events (picnics/celebrations/fund raisers), and balloon races. Our clients include: a bank holding company, car dealer, oil company, television station, radio station, and a national cellular phone company. We also managed the hot air balloon which represented the U. S. National Hot Air Balloon Championships held in Columbia 1995 through 1997. The balloon was used at events throughout the Midwest to promote the event. During 1994 and 1995, we appeared with the balloon on the NBC Today Show with Willard Scott.
Hot Air Balloon Rides/Tethers
We offer hot air balloon rides and tethered rides for individuals, couples or small groups. Balloon rides last approximately 45 minutes to one hour and include a traditional champagne toast at the landing. Most of our aeronautical adventures depart from the Boone County Fairgrounds, but we also give rides throughout Missouri. Some of our unique flights have included wedding proposals, birthday, anniversary and retirement celebrations. Some couples have even exchanged marriage vows in the balloon.
Tethered rides are popular at company picnics and family reunions or wherever a group of people want to enjoy a short ride up and down in a tethered balloon.
Due to more favorable wind and weather conditions, we usually launch balloons at sunrise and within two hours of sunset. We can also do tethered rides after sunset. Although we fly year around, our busiest season is May through October. We have balloon ride gift certificates for sale and offer Sterling Classic discounts. Advance reservations are required.
Coco the Clown
In June of 1996, BalloonStormers purchased Coco the Clown, a custom-built special shape balloon. Coco is a BalloonWorks FireFly 7B and stands over 75 feet tall. As he spins in the sky, you can see both sides of his personality — happy and sad. He even has advertising space available on his skirt banner. Coco can be used for passenger rides, balloon glows, or tethered rides. Coco has traveled to Indiana; Illinois; New York; Tulsa; Longview, Plano and Mesquite, TX; the U. S. Nationals in Columbia, MO; the World Championships in Battle Creek, MI; and the Kodak International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque. He has been featured several times on the Official Special Shapes Poster at the Fiesta and has appeared on the Weather Channel.
Show-Me Balloon Club
The Show-Me Balloon Club, sponsored by BalloonStormers, was formed to promote the sport of hot air ballooning. The Club has social meetings in the off season (February – April) and meets monthly at our balloonport during the flying season (May through October). In addition, the Club sponsors an annual safety seminar every spring to emphasize the safe aspects of flying and chasing balloons. Members include pilots, chase crew, and others interested in ballooning. Individual and family memberships are available. Club tee shirts featuring artwork of member balloons are also for sale.
Gary Sines has trained over 50 pilots during his career. We provide pilot training for the private and commercial lighter-than-air pilot rating and conduct periodic ground schools for student pilots and crew members.
- You may train in your own balloon ($150 per hour).
- Or you can train in one of our balloons ($225 per hour).
Training requirements for a private certificate consist of a ground school and written exam, ten hours of flight instruction, and a solo flight. All training is based upon the FAA Practical Test Standards. Once these requirements are met, the student is ready for the flight check ride and oral exam administered by a FAA Designated Examiner.
For more information, please call BalloonStormers, Inc. at 573-814-4000.