Family pilots becoming more popular at Balloon Fiesta


ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Balloon Fiesta brings families together as spectators, chase crews and even pilots.

There’s a small number of pilots on the field this year that are flying alongside their son, daughter or father.

Patrick and Morghan Chando are a local father-son pilot duo and they are one of at least four at this year’s Balloon Fiesta.

“At 18 months he was flying and he got the bug,” said dad, Patrick Chando.

Morghan isn’t the only young pilot traversing the skies over Fiesta with his parent, either. Now 17 years old, Savannah Bradley also got involved in ballooning before she could walk while watching her dad, Troy Bradley, pilot a balloon.

“I don’t remember my life without ballooning. I don’t remember what the first time was like, it’s just always been there,” said Savannah Bradley.

The Bradley and Chando family stories are similar.

“I’m watching him love flying and being able to fly next to him, it was just a dream I always had and as soon as I achieved that dream it just made it that much better,” said son, Morghan Chando.

Making it that much more special, this year is Morghan’s first Fiesta as the pilot of his own balloon. He even got to launch right next to dad.

There’s at least two other pilot families representing at the 46th Fiesta. Joe, Lucas and Rhett Heartsill are a father-sons trio from Texas. Ray and Dave Bair are local.

It’s not unusual to find family members crewing, but there’s something really special about looking across from thousands of feet up and seeing your parent or child flying a balloon, too.

“It’s definitely a thing of pride but also something we can experience together,” said Troy Bradley.

You may remember Savannah Bradley from last year when she was named the youngest balloonist at Fiesta at just 16. Her dad, Troy, is also a well-known world record-setter when it comes to balloons.

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