Tonwy Hanson in all his glory out at "Rainbow"
Toney Hanson (along with my Mom) is solely responsible for my 25+ year infatuation with all things of the aerostat nature. He was a student when he and his wife Julie invited my mother and I to come out ballooning in 1981. He couldn't give rides until he was a private pilot but when we went out the first time, we were hooked. The balloon pictured below was his balloon "Whoopie Cushion". It was a 1978 Raven Rally 6 (56,000 Cu Ft) N1884R. This balloon is part of my soul. I met my wife because of this balloon. We both got our first rides in "Whoopie Cushion" on two separate occasions. Toney still flies. He and his wife live in Huntsville, Alabama. In my mind he will forever be the greatest balloon pilot to ever grace the skies! Corny I know but it's the truth and sometimes the truth hurts. I am proud to have been a part of his ballooning career, He helped make me who I am now
"Whoopie Cushion"
It is really nice to be able to say I was around during what I call the end of the Pioneer days of ballooning. Whoopie Cushion was built in those days. This was one of the coolest balloons ever built. These were the golden days for me. If you are new to ballooning...savor this time. The beginning is always pure magic. I suppose when I was a kid just starting out everything about ballooning was magic. It is a way to just leave everything behind. To "Stop the planet and get off". Everyone on the planet should be born with a ticket for a free balloon ride. If youhaven't been for a balloon ride....do it. The experience is just plain and simple magic....and it lingers in your soul forever.