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The Crew

Tim Cole, Project Manager
Cole has served in one capacity or another with United States around-the-world ballooning attempts since 1981. He flew as co-pilot with Fossett in the 1994 record-setting transatlantic balloon flight, and served on the team for Fossett’s January 1997 attempt, which set absolute duration and distance records, and for Fossett’s January 1998 attempt. As chief engineer, Cole oversees the operational readiness of all systems, improvements of systems and design changes. Cole is a holder of two world and 26 national ballooning records, and was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame. A 1991 duration record flight was cited by the National Aeronautics Association as one of the top 10 flights of 1991. In 1995, Cole, along with Dennis Brown, was awarded the Diploma Montgolfier, the highest award given to a balloonist. He has been an agent with Farmers Insurance Group, in Greeley, Colo., for the past 26 years.
Bert Padelt
Padelt is responsible for building, repairing and organizing much of the equipment used in the Fossett balloon, including the pre-launch assembly process. A championship balloonist and launch expert, Padelt assisted in Fossett’s previous around-the-world attempts. Involved with ballooning since age 12, he is one of the very few persons in the United States who build high-tech gas racing balloons, and his balloons have claimed world records. Padelt also is a member of the board of directors of the Gas Balloon Division of the Balloon Federation of America. His company, Best Aviation Services, in Bally, Pa., builds, repairs and inspects both hot-air and gas balloons. His nickname of 'Stogie" alludes to the fact that he might be caught smoking a huge Cuban when no one is looking.
Dennis Brown
Brown is a 20-year ballooning veteran, including 12 years of flying with gas balloons. He has worked on all of Fossett’s flights, including the transatlantic flight of 1994 and the January 1997 and January 1998 efforts from Busch Stadium in St. Louis and Mendoza, Argentina. As launch director, Brown is in charge of the physical assembling and launching of the balloon. This involves assembling and installing equipment and includes putting helium on board The process takes approximately 12 hours before launching. Brown received the 1995 Diploma Montgolfier, awarded by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world’s governing body for ballooning. He shared the honor with Tim Cole, Fossett’s chief engineer for the upcoming flight, for being the first balloonists to fly a balloon using anhydrous ammonia for fuel.
John Kugler
When not living in a hangar, he spends his time watching "The Simpson's", which he has successfully watch in three languages in various parts of the world and understood most of them.  He is a member of the board of directors of the Gas Balloon Division of the Balloon Federation of America.  A 20-year ballooning veteran who holds a certificate (pilot’s license) for both hot-air and gas balloons. Represented the United States in the 2000 Gordon Bennett finishing 5th with Red Sheese as copilot.  He has been on Fossett’s team since it was formed in 1994 with Fossett and Tim Cole’s transatlantic flight, and he is very experienced in the inflation of large balloons.  He trained Fossett in this basic gas flight theory and flight with ammonia.  


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