Every year during the Balloon Fiesta hundreds of hot air balloons take flight. Controlling those colorful giants are the dedicated men and women who make each Balloon Fiesta as memorable as the last. Cheri White, a commercial hot air balloon pilot with over 2,300 pilot hours, is one of many pilots participating in the 2016 Balloon Fiesta. Flying since the age of 14, Cheri has flown in more than 40 states around the country and around the world. With multiple medals and honors under her belt, Cheri is currently the Southwest Region Director and Vice President of the Balloon Federation of America. Learn more about Cheri White and the advice she has for future pilots in this month’s Inside the Basket.
How many years have you been a balloon pilot and how did you get started?
I have been a pilot for over 35 years. It was a family hobby and my father and Bill Murtorff taught me to fly.
It was just announced that Balloon Fiesta will be hosting the Women's National Championships, what is your history with the event?
I competed in the first Women's National Championship in Rantoul, Illinois in 1999 and finished first place.
For how many years have you flown in the Balloon Fiesta, what's your favorite part about the event?
I have flown at the Balloon Fiesta for 15 years. My favorite part is seeing my friends and participating in the America's Challenge.
What's your favorite part about competing as a balloonist?
I love flight planning and flying over the center of targets on good days.
What advice do you have for someone who is thinking about becoming a pilot?
Ballooning has been a wonderful part of my life since I was 14. It has allowed me to travel and make friends all over the world. It helps to be part of a crew before taking lessons so that you learn from the ground up.