Welcome to Above Reality Hot Air Balloons!
Since 2002 Above Reality Balloons has been soaring the Vermont skies to help makes lasting memories and lifelong dreams come true. We've helped thousands of people check a hot air balloon ride off of their bucket list! Our main goal is to provide you with a safe flight and a first-class balloon passenger experience like no other. It is truly a team effort focused on safety, professionalism, efficiency, experience, and fun. We encourage you to meet the team below of pilots, crew, and flight hosts who makes the magic happen.
We strive to provide the ultimate hot air balloon tours over Vermont and are proud to be listed in Frommer's as "One of the World's Ten Best Hot Air Balloon Adventures."
In addition to the incredible views, our focus on making each passenger's experience first class in safety and quality results in a variety of humbling 5-star reviews.
Amazing experience floating in the air during the peak of Faliage in Vermont. Jeff and his team made sure that the entire group was entertained with witty commentary. Sight of two other balloons flying alongside ours was a wonder to watch. A truly memorable and enjoyable experience which will stay with us for a long long time. Thank you to the very friendly entire crew!
This was one of the most incredible things I have ever done. The flight was flawless. The crew and captains knew exactly what they were doing. I was anxious to be so high, but once you’re up there, it’s not scary at all! If this is something you’ve always wanted to do, to do!! October was the perfect time to see fall foliage!
We had a great ride with Jeff. He and his crew are very professional, saw to all the details from lift off to champagne, and kept us updated the entire time. Safety is a priority, but not in a way that interferes with the beauty and fun of the experience. Everything looks so different from 2000 feet! We saw beavers and great blue herons in their nests (and even red winged blackbirds look cool from above). It was a special treat, and we really enjoyed it!
Meet Our Crew
Jeff Snyder – Chief Pilot
A serendipitous balloon ride at the age of 10 was Jeff’s first introduction to the world of hot air balloons. But it wasn’t until a class in his final semester at Penn State (B.S. 2002) where a project to design a hypothetical recreation-based business helped him stumble into the idea to start a balloon ride company in his native state of Vermont.
Since then Jeff has flown thousands of passengers and flown balloons around the world in places like Mexico, New Zealand, the Philippines, Lithuania, France, and of course around the U.S. Although his favorite area to fly is right here in Vermont where he has flown over Mt. Mansfield and Lake Champlain on several occasions (yes, on purpose).
Gary the Lunch Lady
By day Gary helps run and manage the kitchen for the Harwood Union High School and Middle School. He has been a valuable member of our balloon team for over 10 years and knows the many nuances of the balloon ride industry and our company specifically. He does a TON of work behind the scenes as well as out on the launch field. You won’t hear him say too much, but you will see him sweating and always working.
Jake comes from an aviation background as he a commercially-rated fixed wing pilot ( or airplane driver). He works locally for both FedEx and the Vermont Air National Guard. He has three daughters who keep him busy when he is not working.
We were lucky enough to have Jon come across our path a few years ago as he was changing careers. He is not only a student balloon pilot but is also our Crew Chief. You will generally see him behind the wheel of our truck and/or as the first one to arrive on foot and assist in the landing. He has also had experience as a ground crew member out in Phoenix, Arizona. In between flights he runs his own boutique landscaping company. He spends his winters trekking around the mountains of Vermont for a local maple sugar producer.
Tassie loves adventure and travel. She was our most frequent passenger over about an 8-year span and so we basically made her join the ground team (it didn’t take too much convincing). She also enjoys geocaching and keeping Vermont traditions alive like pressing apple cider and maple sugaring in her own backyard. Her favorite places are on a sandy beach with salt water or in a balloon basket.
Nate found his way to us about a decade ago when looking for things to do in his spare time when he wasn’t working, mowing his lawn, or making lawn art . He has been a very valuable crew member over the years. Interestingly enough, Nate wasn’t wild about flying in general (or balloons for that matter) when he first started. He has now been on more balloon rides than he can count and loves flying! He also loves a good craft beer with the crew after a good flight and we’re pretty sure that’s why he sticks around.
Paul If being part of a balloon chase team isn’t an obscure enough way to earn a living, Paul is also a professional forager of wild mushrooms, ramps, etc. (which he provides to local restaurants), a furniture refinisher, a wildlife photographer, and Red Sox lover (although that doesn’t provide much income J). He is originally from Maine and that’s why he talks funny.
Stephanie spends her summer days playing softball, riding motorcycles, and chasing hot air balloons. By day she works for Keurig Dr. Pepper - formerly Green Mountain Coffee Roasters as a Sensory Specialist – she sniffs and tastes coffee beans for quality control. She loves music concerts (especially heavy metal)!
Brandie was interested in balloons for a while and we landed near her home one day. She asked if she we ever needed any additional crew members on sunrise flights as she had early mornings free. Her main job is medically analyzing people while they sleep (yup, you read that right) so she keeps unique hours. She is also a mom to two teenage boys.
Dave a.k.a Karlos (whichever you prefer) – had at least two lives before he came to us. 1) was a as a local South Burlington police officer for 20 years, and 2) he was in charge of washing and waxing the F-16s flown by the Green Mountain Boys that used to be based at Burlington International Airport. Ok, ok, he actually retired as the Chief Master Sergeant. Now we are subjected to his corny puns and bad dad jokes in the chase truck (let’s be honest, they are actually grandpa jokes).
Kristy is a balloon enthusiast and has been interested in balloons well before she found us. She has been on many balloon rides with us and we’ve even landed our balloons in her backyard! She is a lover of country music festivals, organization, and road trips. If Kristy is the host who greets you on the day of your flight she can answer almost any question you might have about the flight experience.
Kristyn has an office job that she likes but it didn’t quite meet her needs for excitement and spending time outdoors. So when she leaves there at the end of the work day, we’re happy to have her join the team to help with hosting, passenger transportation, and post flight celebrations! She’s a lover of the New England Patriots and an excellent baker. So the rest of the crew welcomes your recipes suggestions for her to try out on themJ
Vicky likes to work as a flight host when her husband Gary (a.k.a. “Lunch Lady) is also crewing. Vicky is a talented graphic designer who worked for the Shelburne Museum for over 18 years. She now works for the YMCA of Greater Burlington. Vicky and the Lunch Lady are empty nesters now that their daughter has graduated from Northwestern and is gainfully employed
Jason Provost – a.k.a Tobby Korrobos, International Piloto
Jason soloed an airplane before he even had a driver’s license. He then went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and became a Commercial Airline Pilot. He later added a Commercial Balloon Pilot rating to his license. He is presently a Simulator Pilot Instructor for American Airlines in Dallas, TX. He teaches and recertifies pilots on the Airbus A320 platform. He grew up in Vermont and comes “home” to fly balloons during the very busy parts of the season.
David Tanzer – David likes the puzzle of flying both balloons and those aircraft that have wings. He’s been doing both for a long time. In 2019 completed his 4th decade of safe balloon flying. He was awarded the “Ed Yost Master Pilot” award bestowed upon those who have been safely flying balloons for 40 years or more. In the airplane world he volunteers his time, skills, and his airplane when he transports passengers in need of medical treatments for the Angel Flight organization. Despite all of these impressive aviation accolades he could talk about he his mostly inclined to talk about his daughter’s accomplishments as she progresses through the dual M.D./PhD program at Tufts University.
“Aunt” Jo – comes from a large family in Westford, Vermont and earned that nickname from her many nieces and nephews (some of whom are also on our crew). She worked as a dairy farmer for almost three decades and then drove a mail route for the US Postal Service for 17 years. She takes lots of wonderful photos of our flights that you might see on our Facebook page or website. She is also a loving and proud grandmother. You will not see anyone out work her.
Riggins – the only “official” four-legged crew member of the team. Adopted in 2017 through the Passion for Paws, Riggins will be on the launch and landing fields on almost all flights keeping us safe from squirrels, ground hogs, and field mice. However, unless you catch a glimpse of him getting out of or into the truck he will mostly remain out of site finding all of the wonderful smells and critters on the ground. He does NOT go flying with us but happily jumped in the basket one day when we offered him a tethered balloon ride.
Here's a Taste of The Adventure
Ready to fly with us?
More Testimonials About Our Hot Air Balloon Crew
Perfect flight with an awesome, very professional crew. Couldn't have gone better. I highly recommend booking a flight as soon as possible, it is definitely worth every cent.
Jeff was very entertaining, friendly & knows how to put people at ease! He was serious about safety but at the same time, made the whole trip fun!!! Incredible balloon ride, incredible pilot& incredible crew! I would do it again in a heart beat!!!
Jeff's passion for the balloon and rider experience shows in every step of the adventure. I highly recommend Above Reality Hot air Balloon Rides - Jeff & his team are the best of the best.