Meet the Equinox Balloons Team
Equinox Balloons Owner & Commercial Hot Air Balloon Pilot - Jason Elkins
A third generation commercial hot air balloon pilot, Jason started learning to fly balloons in 1985 at the age of 12 years old, while traveling the world with his father, commercial balloon pilot Jerry Elkins. Back then Jerry was teaching Jason to fly in a hot air balloon named Tumbleweed, aka "The Wyoming Balloon". Jerry spent every summer traveling with his two sons, Jason and Justin, attending different events around the country, even flying balloons in Australia and France. Jason got his student pilot's license and logged his first instructional flight during the Festival de Montgolfieres in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada at the age of 14. At 15 years old he made his first solo balloon flight in the Wyoming Balloon during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the world's largest and best known hot air balloon event. He passed the written, oral and practical test and earned his private pilot's license at the age of 16. In 2012 Jason returned to fly in the Festival de Montgolfieres for the first time, winning the event's only competition. Jason is also a member of the Arizona Association of Realtors, former US Army Airborne Pathfinder, Montana fly fishing guide, and PADI Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver. Jason's FAA Commercial Pilot's License # is 3335410.
Jerry is Jason’s father. You might say he started it all. He has been flying hot air balloons since the late 1970’s, and prior to that he flew single engine fixed wing aircraft. Jerry earned his private pilot's license before he could legally drive a car, and has logged thousands of hours as pilot in command. Some of his more notable flights include crossing Yellowstone Park, the Grand Canyon, Long Island Sound, a flight from the mainland of Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard, and a series of nine flights spanning the continental US from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean. He has flown below sea level in Death Valley National Park and as high as 24,000’ above sea level. He has flown in 49 of the 50 states, and several foreign counties. One of his greatest joys was teaching his father Jack and his two sons Jason and Justin to fly hot air balloons. Jerry cherishes the fact that he has been able share a wonderful adventure with so many people. He flies for Equinox Balloons periodically, and those lucky enough to fly with him will enjoy his humorous stories and passion for making every flight a memorable experience.
Crew Chief - Erin Romaneschi
Erin grew up in a hot air ballooning family, and has been involved with every aspect of the sport from flying balloons, to building and maintaining them. His family owns a local hot air balloon repair station as well as several special shape and racing balloons that they've built themselves. There are very few balloonists with more knowledge about the sport, and we're happy to have him on the Equinox Balloons team. Erin studied film production in college, and in his free time is working on a hot air ballooning documentary about our friend Micheal Glen, the world's only paraplegic hot air balloon pilot. Erin also crews for the first hot air "blimp" in the United States.
Tuanya is co-owner of Equinox Hot Air Balloon Rides and ultimately the one that keeps everything running smoothly. She does everything from driving the chase vehicle to keeping the crew on task. Tuanya took her first hot air balloon ride in Billings, Montana in 2002 with Jason's dad Jerry Elkins. She's learning to fly balloons and hopes to earn her private pilot's license someday soon. As "the boss" we all know that she does more work than anyone else on the Equinox Balloons team. She often fills in as social director, catering coordinator, logistics manager, and of course Chief Financial Officer. Tuanya has a degree in psychology which comes in handy when dealing with her husband Jason and the crew. She's also a PADI Advanced Open Water SCUBA diver and spent some time living in Central America where she and Jason managed a fly fishing and dive resort off of the coast of Belize. When not chasing hot air balloons, you'll find Tuanya hard at work in her role as a micro-studio manager for Amazon.com.
Jackson is destined to be a fourth generation commercial hot air balloon pilot. He's enthusiastic about every part of the ballooning experience and has almost completely memorized his father's safety briefings. Jackson has the important job of filling the balloon with cold air using a gasoline powered fan. Jackson has flown a few dozen times, including one flight to 12,500 feet above sea level. When not flying with his dad, or chasing balloons with his mom, you'll find Jackson reading, playing with his friends, or rolling around with his dogs Paisley & Chase at their home in Goodyear.
Jordyn first flew in a hot air balloon with her grandfather Jerry Elkins during a balloon festival in Billing's Montana at the age of 6 years old. She enjoys every aspect of ballooning, and doesn't even mind waking up early if there's a balloon flight involved. She's thinking about following in her father Jason's footsteps and becoming a hot air balloon pilot herself. She's a quick and enthusiastic study, and always a pleasure to be around. Jordyn is currently attending the University of Wyoming.
Chase the Mascot
On Valentine's Day, 2015, we were flying with two couples when we saw a little white dog below us in a very remote part of the desert. Upon landing, the dog limped over to us, almost as if he wanted to join us for the post-flight celebration. He had several wounds, was infested with fleas and ticks, and was very hungry. We loaded him in the truck and brought him to our home in Phoenix. X-rays revealed that he'd been shot with a .22 caliber bullet, destroying his left shoulder. He also had some other wounds including a broken tooth and abrasions that needed treatment. Word of the unusual rescue got out, and several local television stations did stories about the little dog, now named Chase, that was rescued by a hot air balloon pilot on Valentine's day. Many generous donors contributed to help cover his medical expenses, and he is now a very happy and healthy part of our family, and a valuable member of the Equinox Balloons team. He reminds us daily to cherish life and to face our challenges with a wagging tail.
See his story on NBC 12 News.
See his story on NBC 12 News.
This is our newest balloon, and probably one of the most comfortable and attractive ride balloons in Arizona. Legacy was built by Cameron Balloons US, and boasts an internal volume of 120,000 cubic feet, roughly the equivalent of the same number of basketballs. She is designed to carry up to six plus the pilot, which makes her the perfect choice for slightly larger groups, without compromising the intimacy our passengers expect. The balloon's dual turning vents allow the pilot to rotate the basket, ensuring each passenger gets to take in the full view without having to shuffle around and change positions with their fellow passengers. We chose the name legacy as a tribute to the legacy passed down to Equinox Balloons owner Jason Elkins by his father and grandfather, both commercial balloon pilots.
We meet our passengers in Goodyear, AZ., approximately 15 minutes west of downtown Phoenix
Each flight is different, and we pride ourselves in selecting the very best launch sites, even if it means driving further than our competition is willing to. We know you'll have a much more enjoyable experience, and you'll participate in interesting discussions about hot air ballooning along the way. We will confirm the exact time and meeting place approximately 36 hours prior to your flight.