I am Tom Tomasetti, owner and chief pilot of the Above & Beyond Hot Air Balloon Company. In order to tell you a bit about me, let me tell you how I got into ballooning.
I recall listening to the radio one morning and hearing about a balloon show of some kind at Meredeth College in Raleigh. At about that time, my 3 year old son, Mark, would go about nuts whenever he saw a hot air balloon flying. So, what was I to do? I went home, packed up my son and off we went. This was in the middle of the day and like most people, I didn't know that balloons do not fly in the middle of the day...sunrise and sunset only. But the balloon equipment was there, albeit all packed up. And, the balloon people were there.
We began talking with the balloon folks...a million questions...they must have hated us. Well, 2 weeks later I found myself on a balloon ground crew (or chase team, if you will). I chased balloon for the next few years.
Back then my day job was an engineer with Nortel. Remember Nortel (and the layoffs)? I decided it was time for something completely different. In 1989, with my severance package, I ordered my first balloon, found an instructor and opened the Above & Beyond Hot Air Balloon Company.
I earned my FAA Commercial Balloon Pilot certificate in 1990. Since the I have flown thousands of people in over 2200 flights and have logged over 2500 hours in hot air balloons. I am a competition pilot who has flown 5 times in the U.S. National Balloon Championships and raced balloons throughout the Southeast. I am a member of the Balloon Federation of America with a Level IV Master Aeronaut rating and a member of the Carolinas Balloon Association.
None of my success in ballooning could have been possible without the support and efforts of:
My beautiful bride of 45 years, Pat (a BFA Level 4 Master Crew Chief)
My eldest son, USN Chief Petty Officer Matt
My youngest son, USAF Master Sergeant Mark (yes, little Mark has grown up)
and a multitude of friends who have paid there dues chasing me all over the countryside.
Mark, the first day we ever saw balloons up close.
Spirit of The Lord V
Spirit of The Lord I