All of our pilots are extremely experienced. They are all fully qualified commercial pilots who operate under the similar strict codes of conduct and regulations of the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that commercial airline pilots are governed by. To become a commercial pilot, they have to first fly and take written and practical exams to obtain a private pilot’s licence (PPL) then after lots of flying experience and studying, take much harder written and practical exams to obtain their commercial licence. Every year they have to pass a practical flying examination under a CAA approved examiner and also have a regular class 2 medical. All of our pilots, as you can see from their very brief (and modest) CVs have a great passion for ballooning that has coloured their lives.
Clive was born into an aviation family; his father was a flight test engineer with British Aerospace and later Sales Engineering Director for Concorde.
Building model aircrafts from the age of 6, Clive obtained his gliders licence at 18. After full-time education he decided to go down instead of up and trained as a commercial diver. At nineteen worked in the Middle East for several years on oil rigs and then spent a further 3 years in the North Sea, specialising in life support systems.
At 26 he joined the motor trade as a General Manager for a Ford Dealership, obtaining his hot air balloon licence at 29 and operating the Ford Dealership Balloon.
Clive set up Bailey Balloons in 1994 with his wife Jo, also a Commercial balloon pilot, one of four women in the U.K. to fly the larger balloons, and both are qualified instructors. Clive proposed to Jo at 8,000 feet over Bath and they left their wedding by balloon.
Clive has flown balloons all over Europe, the Middle East, the United States and Africa. He is the first European to fly balloons in Iran where he also trained their first balloon pilots. Clive holds the altitude record from the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta when he flew his balloon up to 22,5000 in 1994. Jo accompanied Clive as his co-pilot.
Clive also loves planning and executing ballooning stunts, including Flying stuntman and balloon pilot Ian Ashpole on top of the Discovery Channel balloon, flying two balloons attached together by a tight rope and having fellow pilot Mike Howard walk between the balloons blindfolded at 3,500 feet.
There are only a few female commercial balloon pilots and Jo is one of them. Clive taught her to fly before they were married. Jo has flown in different countries around the world including Bulgaria, Poland, Qatar, Switzerland, France, and Italy. Her expertise is with special projects, clients and the media. With her attention to detail and innovative ideas she will always ensure that the project is successful.
Jo has built an impressive portfolio of media contacts since her and Clive began Bailey Balloons and Jo is always heavily involved with media and press relations for all of the stunts.
Jo’s most memorable flights are being proposed to in a balloon at 8,000 feet over Bath and flying from Thornbury Castle on her and Clive’s wedding day. One of Jo’s most memorable landings was in a huge field of tomato plants in Bulgaria with Phil Dunnington with all the local villagers coming out and helping us pack the balloon away!
She was the stunt woman flying a one person hopper balloon in Canada filming for the Land Rover Freelander Advert. Watch it here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=soMZN_EArw8
Charlotte Huxtable is our Office manager and she ensures that everything runs smoothly and efficiently. She has extensive knowledge of running offices and local businesses in the leisure industry.
Charlotte comes from Wales and was brought up in Swansea, then moved to Bristol in 2014. She loves spending her time eating the gorgeous food in restaurants in Bristol and the surrounding areas. She loves attending Ketttle Bell classes a few times a week and so she is of great help shifting heavy boxes around the office! She enjoys travelling to far flung places, anything from New Zealand to Glastonbury and has become a passionate balloonist!
Lucy was born in Bristol but lived in London for many years. She has five children and a close extended family with a passion for the city. She is a famiy-orientated person who brings common sense along with a sense of humour to the office. Dealing with juggling family life with her committments to her children means Lucy is brilliant at multi-tasking and organisation! She always takes her childen to the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and although she is terrifed of heights, she loves balloons!
Kiah is the bright spark of the office with a First Class degree in Russian and French and is currently studying for a Masters in Transaltion in Cardiff. She enjoys keeping fit and singing. She has developed a love of ballooning and when not in the skies herself,loves watching the balloons drift overhead.
Simon Askey (33) successfully gained his commercial pilots licence in 1996. Simon is now one of the most experienced hot-air balloon pilots in the UK. Specialising in flying passengers for Bailey Balloons in the South West.
He has been the pilot for some amazing stunts such as flying a 2.5t working Range Rover car underneath one of the largest balloons in the country for Channel 4’s Monster Garage.
Simon was even one of the test pilots for BBC2’s “Build the Impossible”, where a replica 200-year-old Chinese airship design was made and flown.
Simon has also flown balloons for clients all around the world from Costa Rica, Saudi Arabia to USA and Europe.
You think you have seen him before? You probably have!
His other appearances have included Blue Peter, Record Breakers, BBC & ITV News and advertising sequences for various companies including mobile phone giants in South America – Telcel. He also flew a balloon for a 1996 film in Mexico, starring Lauren Bacall.
But one place you have most likely seen Simon’s work is the Bond film “The World Is Not Enough” – Simon was responsible for the multi-coloured balloon involved in the opening action sequence by the millennium Dome with Pierce Brosnon and his stunt team.
Simon lives in Gloucestershire with his wife and son and is a property developer.
Phil Dunnington, one of the World’s most widely experienced commercial balloon pilots who in the course of extending ballooning projects has flown in 89 countries to date with over 2000 hours as pilot in command.
Evolving from a career in airline and aircraft manufacturing management, Phil, who has been flying balloons commercially since 1971, has helped establish tourist and promotional balloon operations in Europe, Africa, South and Central America and South-East Asia. He also set up his own balloon rides business in the English Lake District and Ireland, operating successfully for 12 years.
A Geography graduate specialising in air transport economics, Phil has been the UK’s chief examiner for balloon licences for over 15 years, deeply involved in formulating the technical and legislative framework of ballooning in the UK and overseas in conjunction with the Civil Aviation Authority and other administrative bodies. He is a director of Europe’s largest annual public balloon spectacle, the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, and has run similar events in Ireland, South America, India and the Middle East.
In conjunction with British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams, Phil sets up select tailor-made group expeditions to the Earth’s remotest corners, ranging from Arctic Canada to Mongolia. David and Phil made a historic ‘first’ by crossing the North West Passage in Nunavut, Canada, in 1999.
Steve Kinsey has been a balloon pilot for over 38 years! He has flown many special shaped balloons including Rupert and our beautiful tear drop balloon, Belvoir Fruit Farms. He flown in many countries aorund the world and ballooning seems to run in his veins!
He also loves motor bikes and has had many diffrent ones over the years.
Steve lives in Devon and has completley renovated his house as he is a skilled builder.
Rick has been involved in Ballooning since 1987 and has made well over 4000 balloon flights in over 100 different balloons. He has also flown in many different countries and has spent his last 6 winters flying in Bagan in Myanmar, South East Asia. He lived in Australia for many years where he operated his own balloon company. It is a family affair with his wife Heather, his sons, Joe and Dan who have all worked as part of the Bailey Balloon team! Rick is a keen motorcyclist and lives in Dorset.
Mike has been flying for over 20 years but he has grown up with ballooning as his father, who taught him to fly, was a hot air balloon pilot. Mike lives in Somerset with his partner and children.
He has flown around 2000 times in that time and has been lucky enough to have flown passengers all over the UK as well as the Maasai Mara in Kenya, over the Temples of Bagan in Myanmar, the deserts of Central Australia around Alice Springs and Far North Queensland by the Great Barrier Reef for 6 years.
Mike holds a commercial hot air balloon license in 4 separate countries and will be spending the winter piloting in Myanmar again.
He also piloted a balloon in the world record breaking crossing of the English Channel in 2011.
Phil was born in Bristol and has flown in Bristol for many years.
He has loved balloons since he was very young and always wanted to be a commercial balloon pilot.
Phil lives with Becca, his wife and their wonderful dog Scrumpy!
He also runs a very successful First Aid and Fire training business.