My name is Bernard “BJ” Sullivan and I am the chief pilot for Conner Prairie’s “1859 Balloon Voyage.”
I’ve been a part of Conner Prairie since March 2009 and needless to say, it’s been a pretty wild ride the past year and a half. As this is my first blog for Conner Prairie, I think it’d be appropriate for me to introduce myself, so all of Conner Prairie’s blog readers can get to know me a little bit better.
I’m originally from a small town in Upstate New York called Hudson Falls. In 2008, I graduated from the State University of New York College at Cortland, dual majoring in childhood education and special education. Once I had graduated I immediately started seeking teaching positions in Upstate New York with little luck finding any thing that seemed to fit my preferences for a full-time job. I knew something was bound to come, so long as I waited patiently.
My balloon experience goes back to when I was a young boy riding my bicycle around the countryside chasing hot air balloons. I knew from a very young age that I wanted to fly, or at least fly in a hot air balloon. When I was 14 years old I had the opportunity to go for my first flight and from there forward I was hooked. By the time I was 20 years old I had my first balloon and my F.A.A. certification to fly passengers.
In February 2009 I was interviewed at Conner Prairie for the chief pilot position for the 1859 Balloon Voyage. My balloon pilot experience and degrees in childhood education and special education were a good fit for the position. In a matter of two weeks I went from a fresh college graduate living in Upstate New York to a full-time tethered helium balloon pilot. It was certainly a change in pace but has been an ongoing adventure that has opened many doors along the way.
Stop by Conner Prairie’s 1859 Balloon Voyage and say hi to me and the rest of the balloon staff.