Meet the balloon pilots: Ellostar, Toucan Pilot, Unchained |

Meet the balloon pilots: Ellostar, Toucan Pilot, Unchained

Twenty-three pilots will man their hot air balloons high above Steamboat Springs on July 13 and 14 during the Steamboat Springs Hot Air Balloon Festival. Here’s a little bit about some of the balloons, and their pilots, that you can expect to see flying high.

Gary Whitby
Columbia, Missouri
TBW FireFly — Ellostar

One of Gary Whitby’s favorite hot air balloon memories is flying in the Chicago area with dramatic views of the city skyline as the sun was rising behind the towering skyscrapers.

Ken Wolcott
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Head 8-88 — Toucan Pilot

Ken Wolcott received his pilot certificate in 1981 and flew as an instructor in the U.S. Air Force Academy cadet hot air balloon club in the 1970s.

Jonathan Wright
Las Vegas, Nevada
Head AX7-70R — Unchained

Jonathan Wright is a two-time member of Team USA in the FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championships. He’s flown in 12 states and six countries. His longest flight was eight hours and 200 miles and his highest flight was 15,000 feet. The fastest balloon he’s ever flown was 78 mph, the smallest balloon flown was 62,000 cubic feet and the largest flown was 330,000 cubic feet.

For more information about the festival, visit and follow the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s full coverage of the event.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User