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FAI CIA Ballooning Commission Hall of Fame Exhibit

About the Hall of Fame

Relocated to the Albuquerque Balloon Museum in 2011 by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the FAI Ballooning Commission International Hall of Fame (Hall of Fame) recognizes those who have made significant contributions to Aerostation, including those who have excelled in business, history, design and engineering, in addition to those better known for their contributions in flying balloons or airships of any category, in competition or records. It features more than 40 inductees.



Jan Balkedal (Sweden)
Professional & Sport Balloonist
Born September 21, 1945, Stockholm, Sweden
Jan Balkedal has had a very long and successful career in ballooning. He has won 5 medals at World Hot Air Balloon Championships, more than anyone else. He has competed in 19 of the 20 World Hot Air Balloon Championships so far. 1979 in Sweden he was an official. Since 1971 when he got his balloon license, Jan Balkedal has flown AA, AX, AM and BX aerostats and is still very active. In 1977 he constructed a hot air airship with better performance than other existing BX airships. In 1980 he constructed a 4800 m3 hot air replica of the gas balloon used by S. A. Andrée for a polar expedition 1897. The replica was used in a movie about the 1897 polar flight. He has participated in more than 20 other movie productions that included balloon flights. Five of those have been full length cinema movies. In 1984 Jan Balkedal produced the award-winning “Balloon Ballet”. He has also many times shared his competition experience with younger pilots in numerous seminars for the Swedish national teams.


Umberto Nobile (Italy)
Airship Developer
Born January 21, 1885, Lauro (Avellino), Italy
Died July 30, 1978, Rome, Italy
Umberto Nobile was appointed to plan and develop an airship by the Norwegian aero club to do the first flight over the north pole. The 11th of May 1926 Nobile and his dog Titina, Amundsen , Ellsworth and other 13 people took off  from the Svalbard islands and landed in Teller, Alaska on the 13th at 7:30 am. They flew over the North Pole at 1:30 am on the 12th. We know now that they were the first ever to get to the north pole and to fly over it (neither Peary nor Byrd actually got there).


Col. Joseph W. “Joe” Kittinger, Jr. (USA)
Aeronaut Extraordinaire
Born July 27, 1928, Orlando Florida
Col. Joseph W. “Joe” Kittinger has enjoyed a more than 60 year career and fascination with flight. Kittinger joined the U.S. Air Force in 1949, serving as a fighter pilot in Germany and NATO test pilot in Copenhagen. He was assigned to Holloman AFB in Alamogordo in 1953, joining Dr. John Paul Stapp’s aero-medical team working on zero gravity tests. Kittinger is best known for his high altitude balloon flights. In 1956 he flew Manhigh I to an altitude over 95,000 feet to investigate human factors of space flight. In the Excelsior program he tested whether pilots could survive high-altitude bailouts, making jumps from altitudes as high as 102,800 feet (a record which stood for over 50 years).
In 1963 he joined the Air Commandos, serving on three combat tours in Vietnam. Four days before the end of his third tour he was captured and spent 11 months as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. At that time he kept himself occupied by planning his solo balloon flight across the Atlantic (which he completed in September 1984). Although he retired from the Air Force in 1978, Kittinger did not retire from flying. He continues to fly and serve as consultant on various aviation projects, notably the Red Bull Stratos mission over White Sands.  Over the course of his aviation career Kittinger participated in numerous hot air and gas balloon competitions to great acclaim, and is a four-time winner of the Gordon Bennett gas balloon race.

Rev. John Mackenzie Bacon (UK)
Sport and Scientific Balloonist
Born June 19, 1846, Lambourn Woodlands, Berkshire | Died December 23, 1904, Coldash, London
Rev. John Mackenzie Bacon, is remembered as an astronomer, balloonist, mathematician, the first British aerial photographer, a pioneer movie maker, pyro-technician, theologian, expert motorist, kite flyer, meteorologist, local philanthropist and lecturer on aeronautical adventures. Bacon took his first balloon flight on August 20, 1888. At the turn of the 20th century, Bacon invented and patented the forerunner of the modern hot air balloon burner – a twin vaporizing coil liquid petroleum burner using pressurized fuel.


Thomas A. F. Sheppard (USA)
Sport Balloonist
Born September 3, 1929, Watership Down, Sydmonton, England
Thomas Albert Francis Sheppard began ballooning in 1973 when he and three partners purchased a balloon together and learned to fly. From 1975 to 2005, Sheppard served as event director at some 110 ballooning events. He has organized and/or officiated regional events in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa; has served as Event Director and Chairman of Jury at North American championships; and has been Event Director, Steward, and President International Jury in international sport and commercial competitions.  Largely due to his role in organizing North American and international competitions Sheppard is considered the father of modern balloon competition in the U.S. He is also recognized for his work in rules and competition task setting
Sheppard represented the USA at the International Ballooning Commission (CIA) from 1981 to 1995.  While serving on the CIA Jury Board, he developed and wrote the CIA Jury Level Qualifications, the CIA Jury Exams for Jury Members and the CIA Jury Handbook.  Tom is the only two-time recipient of the BFA Shields-Trauger Award, the USA’s Highest Award for ballooning.

Anthony M. “Tony” Fairbanks (USA)
Sport Balloonist
Born April 19, 1906 in Newark, New Jersey, Died 15 OCT 1998
Tony Fairbanks was a founding member of the Balloon Club of America (1952). In 1956, Tony was designated by the Civil Aeronautics Administration as the first Lighter-than air Free Balloon Designated Pilot Examiner in the United States.  Tony served as technical consultant for the balloon sequences of Michael Todd’s epic film “Around the World in 80 days.”  The balloon used in the film, “La Coquette” was donated to the Balloon Museum by the Fairbanks family to honor their father.


The posthumous inductees were Ron Clark, a member of the crew to make the first manned balloon crossing of the Pacific Ocean; Larry Newman, a co-inventor of the ultra-light airplane and co-captain on the Double Eagle V first manned balloon crossing of the Pacific Ocean; and Rocky Aoki, a restaurateur and a record-setting balloonist and another member of the Double Eagle V crew.
The living inductee was Olivier Roux Devillas, the founder of the French Aeronautical Federation and competitive balloonist.


The FAI CIA Ballooning Commission Hall of fame exhibit at the Albuquerque Balloon Museum was made possible through the generous donation of Shirley Clark and the entire Clark family in remembrance of posthumous 2011 Hall of Fame inductee balloonist, entrepreneur, Albuquerque native, former AAIBMF Board member beloved husband, father and friend, Ron Clark.

If you would like to donate to maintain and expand this exhibit, please contact the Foundation office at (505) 880-0500 from 9am-5pm (MST) every day or go to the Donate Now section of the website and include what you would like your gift to fund. Gifts of $5,000 or more will be given physical signage recognition within the exhibit.

All other gifts will be acknowledged on our website. Your gift is tax deductible. Thank you for your consideration and generous support.