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2024 FAI Ballooning Hall of Fame Inductees Announced

Induction ceremony will take place at the Balloon Museum in October.
May 13, 2024

The 2024 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) Ballooning Commission (CIA) Hall of Fame inductees were announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, during the March 2024 plenary meeting.

The Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, the home of the FAI CIA Balloon and Airship Hall of Fame, is delighted to announce that Neil Robertson of the United Kingdom and Aleš Kubíček of the Czech Republic are this year’s inductees.

“Ballooning is an integral part of our city’s identity, with the International Balloon Fiesta firmly established as one of most anticipated events in the world,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “Albuquerque is the perfect place to host the induction of these trailblazers, the best place to celebrate the sport, and the best place for families.”

The induction ceremony will take place at the Balloon Museum on Friday, October 4, 2024. The Balloon Museum extends its congratulations to the honorees and their families on being brought into this exclusive cadre of distinguished aeronauts.

Neil Robertson entered the ballooning world in 1973 when he created the original G-OLLE balloon with Don Cameron. A commercial balloon, it advertised Robertson's food company and flew at the 600th anniversary celebration of the city of Bristol, England. The next year, Robertson built another G-OLLE, which took part in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta® and the second World Hot Air Balloon Championship in 1975. In 1977, the world championship was held at Castle Howard and sponsored by Robertson's. G-OLLI, the first Cameron-built special shape balloon, first appeared there. Robertson was in charge of overseas development for the company and flew the “Golly” balloons in forty-three countries. Also an airplane pilot, Robertson flew the company plane.

Robertson competed in the first World Rozière Balloon Championship in 1990 flying G-WRLD, placing third. He helped organize six World Hot Air Balloon Championships and received a Certificate of Appreciation from the FAI in 1995 for his service as the FAI Ballooning Commission Secretary. In 1997, Robertson organized the first FAI World Air Games in Türkiye, and again in Spain in 2001. Understanding the potential for hot air balloon flying in Cappadocia, he started Sultan Balloons and spent a joyous decade putting this region on the hot air ballooning map. Robertson received the FAI Bronze Medal for his tenure organizing FAI sporting events in 2001.

Aleš Kubíček’s story in ballooning does not involve breaking records, but rather how he worked “against the wall” in 1980s Czechoslovakia to start a balloon manufacturing company. Under difficult circumstances he did so by rallying like-minded friends to pool resources and their love of flying, and they created one of the most successful balloon companies in the world.

Kubíček became a licensed pilot in 1983, the same year he and the Aviatik Klub Brno made their first model and the now famous OVO balloon. In 1992, after the Velvet Revolution, Kubicek Balloons was started as a private company with ten employees. In 1996 the company established a mill, which produces a very special fabric that is known as “Kubicek Polyester.” Kubicek Balloons is the only manufacturer in the world to produce, coat, and color their own fabric. By 1998 Kubicek Balloons had built its 100th balloon. To date, with 140 employees, Kubicek companies have made 2,300 hot air balloons; 1,300 baskets; 2,750 burners; 20,000 inflatables; and eight airplanes.

Kubíček was inducted into the Czech Balloon Association Hall of Fame in 2013. He received a Montgolfier Diplome in 2017 for his lifelong contributions to the ballooning community, and earlier this year he was awarded for extraordinary contributions from the subcommittee for aviation and the space program of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Republic. Aleš Kubíček’s vision is that everybody should have a chance to fly a balloon. He has fulfilled his destiny by building balloons that people love to fly.