Kay began flying balloons in 1988 attaining both private and commercial that year. In 1994, Kay began a full time balloon business, Prairie Sky, Inc., in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Prairie Sky offers balloon flights, flight instruction, tethers, promotions as well as supporting local schools with educational programs.
Kay has accumulated more than 1800 hours with some years yielding about 85-100 hours annually. She has trained many students, both private and commercial and holds the distinction of Balloon Federation of America Master Flight Instructor. In addition to flying and training, Kay is the FAA Designated Examiner in the State of South Dakota since 1999. Recently, Kay has been working on an FAA committee to produce an educational seminar for LTA DPEs.
Kay has built 3 experimental/homebuilt balloons and in 2013 added a repair station to Prairie Sky based in Custer, SD. Being a repairman for three experimental balloons is not new but the paperwork associated with managing the repair station and being a certified repairman under the repair station has been an interesting learning experience.
Kay was selected to be a member of the team of balloonists who drafted and reviewed the FAA Advisory Circular – Balloon Flying Handbook.
As education and promoting the growth of ballooning has been a major focus, Kay participated in the first Junior Balloon Camps at Aerostar and has served as a counselor and instructor at BFA Junior Balloon Camps in Dubuque, IA. She has also been a presenter at several safety seminars each year for the past decade.
She continues to support ballooning side-by-side with her husband Mark West, former President, Aerostar International, Inc.