Brouillet said Yellow Brick
Road is still a part of the family, but as it has aged a bit, it was
time to bring something new into the mix.
"Yellow Brick Road is now over 20 years old," Brouillet said. "We
will continue to fly it locally, but the fabric has become too
porous to carry more than one passenger in the heat of the summer. I
enjoy flying as many passengers as I can."
The new balloon, Envy, is a weave pattern in shades of green.
"We were introduced to the ‘weave' pattern in St. Louis last fall
and instantly fell in love with it. We added our favorite colors and
now we are flying it." Brouillet said, "My daughter's choice (of
name was) Green With Envy. I simply shortened it to Envy. The name
leaves its meaning to the imagination."
Brouillet said that Envy is approximately the same size as Yellow
Brick Road but has a rounder shape due to the manner in which it is
Brouillet began flying in 1993, and Yellow Brick Road was his
first balloon, purchased in 1999. Since then he has logged over 350
hours in the air. This year will be his seventh year as a pilot in
Lincoln, but he said that prior to piloting, he served on balloon
crews at the festival all the way back to 1993.
Brouillet was born in Kankakee and continues to live in that area
today. He and wife, Jane, have three daughters, all graduates of
Illinois universities. Their youngest daughter, Danielle, is also
active in aviation. After earning four degrees in aviation, she is
employed by United Express, the regional carrier of United Airlines.
All three daughters, along with a son-in-law and a grandson, Gavin,
continue to crew for their father.
[to top of second column]
One highlight of Brouillet's career started in 2003. He and
Danielle were invited to crew for Alan Blount at the BFA National
Championship in Anderson, S.C. They were told by Blount that if he
finished high enough in the rankings, he would qualify for the 2004
World Championships in Mildura, Australia. If he qualified, Pat,
Danielle and Blount's daughter, Sarah, would be invited to crew for
him in Australia. Alan did qualify, and the four of them spent two
wonderful weeks ballooning and touring Australia in 2004.
Brouillet said he does plan to participate in the Saturday
morning balloon target toss this year. As far as strategy for
hitting the target goes, he said: "I find the ‘baseball' throw to be
my best strategy as I am not coordinated enough to make a ‘windup'
throw. The baggie always seems to get wound up on something or ends
up going the wrong direction."
Brouillet has a total of 11 festivals on his calendar this year
and said he very much enjoys coming to Lincoln.
"Everyone in Lincoln treats us like family," Brouillet said. "My
sponsors welcome my family and crew to their restaurant every Friday
for pizza, and they invite us to their home on Saturday for a
cookout. The event organizers, the folks at Hicksgas, the staff at
HI Express and everyone else in Lincoln make us feel welcome and
accommodate us any way they can. Of course, competing before the
huge crowds at the airport is always fun, too."
[By NILA SMITH]