About Airborne Heat Ballooning

Established in 1984, Airborne Heat, LLC is a privately-owned Albuquerque, New Mexico based company that specializes in hot air balloon pilot training, Cameron Balloon sales and marketing opportunities featuring hot air balloons. Our goal is to provide a highly personalized service offering the very best hot air ballooning experience from the most experienced balloonists in the business.

We are proud members of the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) and the Aircraft Operators and Pilots Association (AOPA). Airborne Heat became the first corporate member of the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association (AAAA), although the principals had long had individual memberships.

Elizabeth (Beth) Wright-Smith

Owner/Chief Instructor/Chief Pilot

  • Involved in ballooning since a child in the 1960’s; balloon pilot for over 40 years
  • 4500+ hours total time in balloons as a sport pilot, competition pilot, balloon ride pilot and commercial/corporate pilot and instructor
  • Became a full-time commercial pilot in mid 1980’s
  • Flown many makes/models of balloons, including large ride balloons and special shape balloons
  • Gas balloon rated
  • Served multiple terms on the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association (AAAA) board, including 5 years as VP
  • Two terms on the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) board
  • Multiple terms on the Board of Trustees for the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, including as Chair
  • Chief Flight and Ground Instructor for one of only five FAA approved Part 141 pilot training schools in the US
  • Began giving pilot training in 1985
  • 400+ students trained
  • 2000+ hours of flight instruction given
  • Speaks at safety seminars, other ground schools and civic/school groups
  • 30 + years as FAA certified repairman and 10 years as Chief Inspector for a balloon repair station
  • Served as an FAA Aviation Safety Counselor since 1992; currently a FAAST Team member
  • Owner of Airborne Heat, providing pilot instruction, DPE services, Cameron Balloon sales and pilot services for corporate programs, including Wells Fargo Bank
  • 15 years as Director of Operations and then co-owner of World Balloon, an internationally known balloon services company
  • Recipient of a BFA Director's Award, the AAAA Ruppenthal Education Award & the AAAA’s highest honor, the Sid Cutter Award.

Ron Sanchez

Assistant Chief Flight Instructor

  • First balloon ride in 1981
  • Been involved with ballooning full time since 1982
  • Earned Private pilot certificate in 2003
  • Earned Commercial rating in 2006
  • Over 800 hours of flight time in hot air balloons
  • Flown different size balloons from 54,000-310,000 cu ft
  • Has flown a variety of special shape balloons
  • Has flown in multiple parts of the United States
  • Instructed numerous students
  • Enjoys recreational and competition flying along with sharing knowledge while instructing students
  • Competed in the 2015 U.S. National Championships
  • Also flies for corporate programs such as Wells Fargo and RE/MAX
  • Retired from the Albuquerque Fire Department after serving 20 years
  • Resident pilot and instructor for multiple BFA Balloon Camps
  • Active member of AAAA (Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association) and BFA (Balloon Federation of America)

Don Boyer

Assistant Chief Flight Instructor

  • 1985 – First balloon ride in Roswell, NM and joined the Chase Crew
  • 1989 – Purchased first balloon system
  • 1990 – In January earned Private Pilot Certificate and in September earned Commercial Pilot Certificate
  • 1990 – Participated in first Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta as a pilot. Placed 10th overall and named “Rookie of the Year”. Now almost 30 consecutive years flying in the Fiesta
  • 1994 – Joined World Balloon Corporation as a Ride Balloon Pilot and Flight Instructor
  • 2004 – Joined Airborne Heat as a Flight Instructor
  • 2009 – Contract pilot for Wells Fargo Bank Balloon Program until 2017
  • Over 1300 pilot hours and safely flown over 3000 passengers
  • Either completely trained or shared in the training of over 40 balloon pilots
  • Past President and Vice-President of the Valencia Flying and Retrieval Society (VFRS)
  • Active member of the Albuquerque Aerostat Ascension Association and the AAAA Education Foundation.
  • Member of the Balloon Federation of America
  • Past Balloonmeister and Safety Officer for the annual St. Patrick’s Day Balloon Rally in Belen, NM featuring up to 100 balloons.