Owner of “BEST AVIATION” in Bally, Pennsylvania, Bert Padelt and his wife Joanie run a full time repair station for both hot air and gas balloons. His balloons hold FAI world class records in AX (hot air), AA (gas) and AM (Rozier) categories. His gas balloons now hold distance and duration records in all but three of the fifteen categories.
He was the systems director of the late Steve Fossett’s round the world balloon attempts including his successful circumnavigation in the summer of 2002. Also in 2002 Bert built the tetrahedron smoke balloon used in the acclaimed Japanese documentary “Return To Nazca”. It was this balloon that renewed the interest in amateur home built tetrahedron hot air balloons across the country.
He built the smallest manned gas balloon system to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean when David Hempelman Adams flew this thousand cubic meter balloon from St. John’s Newfoundland to Nolay, France in the summer of 2007. In doing so, 5 FAI world class distance and duration records were set.
In 2015 Bert built the Two Eagles Transpacific balloon envelope. Through its successful flight he was responsible for it’s logistics, assembly, launch and recovery procedures. With the completion of this flight, he is now the only gas balloon builder to have his aircraft successfully cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
In 2011 Bert was awarded the FAI Montgolfier Diploma, the highest honor bestowed on a balloonist worldwide, for his contribution to the sport of gas ballooning. In 2015 Bert and his wife Joanie were awarded the Sheilds-Trauger Award, the highest honor of the Balloon Federation of America for their years of work in gas and hot air ballooning.
Bert is a founding member of the Aero Club of America; the first active gas balloon club in the United States since the 1950’s. In 2015 this club received the FAI’s Group Diploma; an international award recognizing the club members’ contribution to the sport of gas ballooning. Bert is Vice Chairman of the BFA Gas Division where he has sat on the board for 18 years.
Bert and Joanie have been married for 27 years and have two wonderful sons, James and William.