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Brian Boland, Balloon Pilot with an Absolute World Record
Researched and Written by Janine Weins
(Posted 2/14/07)

"Fantastic," is how Brian Boland describes Post Mills Airport as a balloon launch site. Brian says the "terrain is much more adventurous than most anywhere else," but the airport, which is "in the wind shadow of the Green Mountains," has "an incredible amount of calm which is essential for good/safe ballooning."

In 1971, Brian was pursuing an M.S. in Art Education at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. For his creative thesis project he designed and built a two person hot air balloon he named The Phoenix. On May 17, 1971, Brian flew the tethered Phoenix over the Pratt Campus. Harold Haskins, a New Hampshire Airport Commissioner, says, "After Brian designed that first balloon it was like a snowball going downhill—Brian was hooked on ballooning." Every year on May 17, its birthday, Brian inflates The Phoenix so it can feel the wind on its skin. An aerial view of the Post Mills Airport.

After graduating from Pratt, Brian took a teaching position in Connecticut at Farmington High School. By 1977, he had saved enough so he could afford to take time off from teaching. Brian says, soon "ballooning mysteriously took over my life." He traveled to Europe pursuing one ballooning adventure after another and never went back to teaching.

In the last 36 years, Brian has designed and built nearly 160 balloons and airships and logged nearly 9,000 hours, which he believes is more time than most any other hot air balloon pilot. In 2006, he flew a record 680 flights. Brian has held and helped set 27 nation and world hot air balloon records for distance, duration, and altitude. He also held the records for distance, duration, and altitude for all ten size categories of hot air airships. He has twice been the Irish National Ballooning Champion. In 1988, he set the Absolute World Altitude Record for all types of airships, 5,059 meters (16,600 feet). The record has since been broken by an Englishman flying a Boland Airship.

Always interested in the designs of others, Brian has acquired the largest single collection of balloons and airships that can be found anywhere.

In 1988, Brian moved from Connecticut to the Post Mills Airport. In addition to being a fantastic launch site, the 52-acre airport offered Brian a place for his collection of balloons and related items, and space for balloon and airship manufacturing.

In the mid 90s, Brian built a private museum at the Post Mills (pictured upper right) airport to house his antique chase vehicles, ballooning paraphernalia, and more than 100 balloons and airships.

Brian met his wife, Louise, at a balloon festival in New Zealand where he gave Louise her first balloon ride. Louise was soon in love with Brian and ballooning.

Boland Balloon sells custom hot air balloons and airships, plans for building balloons, and kits for making hot air balloons. The Bolands run camps at Post Mills Airport where those attending can build their own hot air balloon or airship under the supervision of Brian and Louise.

From May until November, Brian launches hot air balloons from the Post Mills Airport. In November, the Bolands travel to New Zealand where they balloon until the following May.

Hot air balloons are launched twice daily, at 6:00 a.m. and 2 hours before sunset—weather permitting. To arrange a scenic hot air balloon ride from Post Mills airport, contact Boland Balloon at 802-333-9254, or e-mail them at balloons@vermontel.com.

For those who do not want to ride in the hot air balloon Haskins says, "Riding with Louise in the chase car is of ten more fun than riding in the balloon—sometimes she is leaning out the window while driving down narrow back roads, sometimes she turns around in the middle of the road, and always she is trying to keep Brian in sight."
Balloon titled Lonesome #2.
Brian built Lonesome #2 in 1997. It is a 24,000-cubic foot single-passenger balloon.
Balloon titled The Big Boy.
Brian built The Big Guy in 2004. It is a 96,000-cubic foot five-passenger balloon.
Balloon titled Jeff Two.
Brian built Jeff Two in 2004. This seven-person 122,000-cubic foot balloon is even bigger than The Big Guy.


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