March 2, 2024
Continuing Education Seminar

Lackawanna College, Scranton, PA.
Hotel information and reservation:
Baymont by Wyndham
1266 O’Neill Highway
Dunmore, PA 18512
$80 per night
Reserve by calling: 570-348-6101 to reserve your room(s)
Use GEBA for the booking code (Room Block Closes 2/15/2024

2024 CES Presenters



2024 Informations about the CES Presenters, and Topic Descriptions

Jennifer Yost McNatt

Interpreting radar and other usefull weather data resources

Jen graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Meteorology and was commissionned into the Air Force as a Weather Officer. She was stationed at Barksdale AFB, LA, Osan Air Base, South Korea and Keesler AFM, MS forecasting for aircraft such as the B-52s, A-10s, F-16s and U-2s, as well as becoming a Weather Instructor before leaving the military. She then worked for the National Weather Service (NWS) as a forecaster in Lake Charles, LA and Tallahassee, FL and a lead forecaster in Wakefield, VA and Tampa, FL. She was selected to lead a program to develop a Regional Operations Centers (ROC) in Fort Worth, TX a project that eventually led to the formation of ROCs at all NWS regions… fupporting FEMA, State Emergency Management Agencies, the Coast Guard and various other state and federal partners. She was deployed to Austin to support the Texas Division of Emergency Management and TX Governor for various hurricanes and flood events. Jen was selected to become the Deputy Director for the NWS Southern Region in early 2022, and currently serves in that position.

Jen grew up in the hot air ballooning community, after her dad got his license when she was around 8 years old. Some of her earliest memories were sitting in fields waiting for fog to lift or winds to die down… or watching the Weather Channel to see if we could fly.

Robin Smith

With Lani Diemicke Topic: Grounded Wisdom, Soaring Decisions:  An exploration of Hot Air Balloon Crew Scenarios and Strategies

During this interactive breakout session, discuss various scenarios that could occur before, during or after flight.  What Would You Do as crew? What would the pilot want you to do?  Share your experiences, insights and best practices to develop strategies, foster teamwork, and enhance communication to promote safety in all phases of ballooning!

Robin has been involved in ballooning for 10 years.  She primarily crews for local pilots in Somerset and Hunterdon counties of NJ.  She has crewed for balloons from various manufacturers as well as special shape balloons and enjoys travelling to festivals such as Letchworth, Chester County, and Adirondack festivals.  Robin currently serves on the board of The Great Eastern Balloon Association (GEBA) in the role of Treasurer and chairs the Product and Good & Welfare Committees.

Lani Diemicke

With Robin Smith Topic: Grounded Wisdom, Soaring Decisions:  An exploration of Hot Air Balloon Crew Scenarios and Strategies

Despite living less than 3 miles from the NJ Festival of Ballooning for the last 32 years Lani didn’t become active in the sport until 2014 when a fortunate series of events led her to discover that there we opportunities to crew (and even become a student pilot) after years of only flying once per year as a participant in the Warren County Fair Hot Air Balloon and Bicycle Race.  She is an advocate for growing the sport while promoting safety and loves sharing her knowledge with others, including having served on the GEBA Board for 3 years.  She has crewed for a variety of manufacturers, including multiple special shapes primarily in the NJ area but has traveled to many festivals in other states including Albuquerque in 2018 and 2022.

Heather Day

Topic: How State Elections Impact Flying

I will be discussing how state legislation created to address trespassing can lead to laws impacting drones and ballooning.  This will be based on the presentation given in the 2023 Cheyenne Hot Air Balloon Club’s Safety Seminar.

Heather Roe Day has been fascinated by hot-air balloons for most of her life when a balloon flew over her house in Laramie, Wyoming when she was five years old.  As a commercial balloon pilot who has been flying for over 20 years, her focus has been organizing safety seminars; this is the 24th year she has led the Cheyenne Hot Air Balloon Club Safety Seminar.  In her professional life, she leads government affairs efforts for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming.  She and her husband Don Day live in Cheyenne, Wyoming and have one daughter who is a student at the University of Wyoming.

Alyssa Sullivan Brown

Topics: Business Behind Ballooning – Let’s take a look behind the scenes at the business’ that keep ballooning going. When you think of a balloon business, you probably think of the ride companies or the gift/accessory makers. This is the backbone of the balloon business- the people who put and keep you in the air.
Repair Presentation: Back to Basics. Taking a look at what an annual inspection consists of and what you as the pilot need to be aware of. It can sometimes be the simplest details that are overlooked.

Alyssa is the daughter of David Sullivan, and a balloon child- born and raised. Growing up, her weekends, school breaks and summers were spent on the road with her dad, traveling the country and attending balloon events. After graduating high school, she became more involved with the balloon business. Her father owns and operates Balloonacy Ltd, LLC, a full-service repair station. Having grown up in the shop, Alyssa earned her repairman certificate in 2014.

Since graduating high school, Alyssa and her dad acquired the PMA for Aerostar parts in March 2013. Alyssa runs the parts side of the shop- everything from ordering parts and answering customer questions to building hoses and shipping worldwide. Most recently, in November 2021, they acquired the Aerostar Type Certificate. With that acquisition came all the historical files from the early days of Raven up to the last balloons built at the Aerostar factory in 2008. Alyssa has been digitizing the files and records to keep the history of the balloons. She recently started the Raven/Aerostar Balloon Owners Group on Facebook and posts frequently many of the build files. She enjoys gathering and reading the histories behind many of the balloons.

While being a pilot never drew her interest, she loves all aspects of the balloon and crewing. She manages all of the companies Social Media accounts. In 2022- Alyssa received her BFA Master Crew Chief Award and was also a nominee for the 2022 AMT Top 40 Under 40, where young aviation mechanics are recognized. She was one of 5 women recognized in 2022, and to-date, the only person to represent the LTA community. Recently, she has taken interest in RC Balloons. Outside of the shop, Alyssa enjoys spending time with her horses.

Kay West

Topic: “It’s the little things” How a series of small decisions and conservative actions can add up to an accident.

Kay began flying balloons in 1988 attaining both private and commercial that year.  Her introduction to ballooning started as crew and photographer.  For this California farmer’s daughter living in the San Francisco Bay Area, crewing was an escape from the city.  The excitement of being in the air and flying in beautiful places has never gotten old.

In 1994, Kay began a full-time balloon business, Prairie Sky, Inc., in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.  Prairie Sky offers balloon flights, flight instruction, tethers, promotions as well as supporting local schools with educational programs.

Kay has accumulated more 2000 hours with some years yielding about 85-100 hours annually.  She has trained many students, both private and commercial and holds the distinction of Balloon Federation of America Master Flight Instructor.  In addition to flying and training, Kay is the FAA Designated Examiner since 1999.

Kay has built 3 experimental/homebuilt balloons and in 2013 added a repair station to Prairie Sky now based in Custer, SD.

She was selected to be a member of the team of balloonists who drafted and reviewed the FAA Advisory Circular – Balloon Flying Handbook, as well as other FAA DPE committees.

As education and promoting the growth of ballooning has been a major focus, Kay participated in the first Junior Balloon Camps at Aerostar 2000-2003 and has served as a counselor and Instructor at BFA Junior Balloon Camps in Dubuque, IA 2013-2015, the High Sierra Balloon Camp near Reno, NV in 2019, 2021 and Southeastern Balloon Camp in Cordele, GA in 2023.  During the pandemic, she developed and successfully held a local mini junior balloon camp in 2020 in Hot Springs, SD

She has also been a presenter at many safety seminars including the BFA On-Line Seminar.  In addition, Kay presented on flight instruction and how to take a check ride at Favia 225/GEBA Instructor Symposium in New Jersey in 2019.

Co-founder and promoter of The Stratobowl historic balloon event since 2010.  The focus of the event is to bring awareness to the high-altitude balloon flights in the 1930s that contributed to the exploration of space.

Ballooning has been a part of her family for over thirty years currently with ten pilots in her family with the odds of women versus men at fifty-fifty.  She continues to support ballooning side-by-side with her husband Mark West, former President, Aerostar International, Inc. and Board Member of the Balloon Federation of America.

Emelia Bernava

Topic: Safety program “Crossing the line” Elements of Powerline Safety.

Emelia has been a commercial pilot for over 20 years.  She is a long-time member of GEBA and served many years as an officer on the Board of Directors. She currently is a FAASafety Team Representative and an FAA-Designated Pilot Examiner.  Emelia is actively involved in keeping fellow GEBA members updated on regulation changes affecting our sport.

Emelia was instrumental in acquiring a grant from the AOPA Foundation to present the “Flying in the Wires Environment” a powerline safety seminar for GEBA pilots and crew.  This was the first time a grant was given by the foundation to a hot air balloon club in the United States. Continuing in the interest of safety, she expanded on this program and initiated and organized the FAASafety Team webinar “Crossing the Line” Elements of Powerline Safety along with Gordon Schwontkowski. This valuable safety information for pilots and crew was well received and shared nationally and internationally.

Emelia has also presented FAASafety Team seminars on medicals for hot air balloon commercial pilots and a program on weather for pilots and crew.  She was a director and presenter for the first-in-the-nation Instructor symposium designed specifically for balloon instruction. Her desire to share hot air ballooning with young students has included instructing at the Great Eastern Balloon Camp in Pennsylvania and attending Women in Aviation International Girls in Aviation Day.

Kate Piper

Ballooning is a lot like a marque event or a blockbuster film…

Kate Piper, ASP is a BCSP-certified safety professional and a member of the Event Safety Alliance, currently leading Physical Safety teams in the film, television and event industry. Kate has a long history of safety-focused, operational leadership in this space and is proud to have produced and production-managed some of the world’s most iconic events, including the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day and NBC’s coverage of the last six Olympic Games, for which she’s received four Sports Emmy Awards as a Technical Supervisor. Kate has been active in Ballooning for more than 15 years as crew chief and, more recently, as a student pilot.  She’s excited to be uniting her passions for her profession and her sport to share her experiences with her fellow GEBA members.

Course description: Ballooning is a lot like a marque event or a blockbuster film…it’s easy to fixate on the spectacle and let the rest of the details fade into the background. In this session we’ll shift the focus. From local flights with friends, to festivals, to aerial coordination on film projects at home and abroad, we’ll shine a spotlight on basic Safety principles that can make every balloon operation a success, and we’ll widen the lens to look at identifying hazards and assessing risks beyond the balloon.

Brenda Cowlishaw

Aeronautical Decision Making: Attitudes of Risk Management while under pressure.  A personal analysis of risk management in flying in the Gordon Bennett.
Gas Ballooning: Leaving your limitation behind.  Information on how to obtaining gas training in Germany.

Brenda Cowlishaw became an LTA Private Pilot in 1996 and Commercial in 2000. She began Gas training along with Brian Duncan in 2017 in Gladbeck Germany, receiving training from Wilhelm Eimers. She had her LTA with airborne heater limitation removed from her certificate that fall. She has returned to Gladbeck several times to develop additional skills to compete in America’s Challenge and in the Gordon Bennett. She has placed 4th in two America’s Challenges and also in the Gordon Bennett.  She lives in Texas with her supportive family.

Dawn Chase

Crew Resource Management – Not just for those things with wings!

Crew Resource Management has been used for a long time by the airlines as part of their safety plan and protocols. We will learn what it is and discuss how this can apply to our balloon adventures!

Dawn Chase is a commercial balloon pilot from Fleetville, PA. She started her balloon career as a child when, in 1983, her dad was offered to go for a balloon flight from Mike Fairbanks. Her dad fell in love with ballooning, got involved with his family and eventually earned his pilot’s license. Dawn grew up in ballooning and learned to fly from her dad and his close ballooning friends. She has been a pilot since 2007and received her commercial pilot license in 2011. Dawn has served on the Great Eastern Balloon association board of directors for 6 years. She has been the co-chair of the continuing education seminar since 2014. She is a recipient of the GEBA President’s award in 2022. Dawn received Balloon Federation of America Director’s awards in 2014 and 2020. Dawn currently serves as the Balloon Federation of America’s social media manager.

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