About Us

Commercial Pilot - Flight Instructor Crew Chief
Kent J Barnes - Dee Thorell -

Kent earned his fixed wing pilot certificate while attending college. That was a long time ago. Starting off as a fixed wing pilot accumulated time flying for pleasure and flying skydivers for the local drop zone.

Then in 2002 the desire to expand on “a life in the air” strongly re-emerged after a hot air balloon flight. Within six weeks of that flight, he had added a commercial LTA rating to his pilot certificate and purchased the first of many LTA aircraft.

Since that time he has had the opportunity to fly balloons at locations and events across the United States, as well many international events in the Middle East, Asia Pacific as well as South and Central America.

In his desire to grow and share his passion he has/is:

  • Accumulated over 2,000 hours of flight time in fixed wing and Lighter than Air aircraft,
  • Earned the Balloon Federation of America's Level 8 Pilot Achievement award,
  • Been designated a Balloon Federation of America as a Flight Instructor,
  • Achieved recognition as an "Elite Balloon Instructor" from the Elite Balloon Instructor Program fueled by the National Association of Flight Instructors (NAFI),
  • Hundreds and hundreds of hours instructing private and commercial under Part 61 and Part 141,
  • FAASafety Team Representative, FAASafety Team WINGSPro,
  • Organized various balloon events and rallies in the Intermountain region,
  • Organized Balloon Safety Seminars for over 10 years, and
  • Presented Ballooning programs for students at elementary, middle schools and high schools across the west.
One of his greatest joys is to introduce the sport of hot air ballooning to people for their first time. He really enjoys his role as an instructor where he is able to see student's progression to earning their pilot certificate. It is Kent’s desire to promote ballooning as a fun filled family activity to the general public and corporate America.

Dee is the chief of many things for BelleStar & The Baby Balloon.

As crew chief she is instrumental in making sure that all things for launches and retrievals are compete and safe.

As chief photographer she deserves credit for most, if not all, of the photos on the festivals pages.

If you find BelleStar or the Baby Balloon at a festival or just flying in your area, your best opportunity to get one of our cards or pins is to trade one of yours with her.

We love to get new pins to add to the collection.