With over 15,700 hours of combined Hot Air Ballooning experience, the pilots of Balloons Above the Valley have been leaders in the hot air ballooning community. They are all FAA approved pilots and have dominated the skies in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Africa & Turkey. Dedicated and strong, they have gained a reputation as forerunners in Hot Air Ballooning, setting standards for others in safety, education and passenger service

Bob Barbarick

Captain Bob Barbarick

A native of the Napa Valley, Bob started flying balloons in 1977. He has extensive knowledge of the art of ballooning with well over 6,800 hours of fight. Whether it is riding the winds, scuba diving, flying his airplane, skiing or river rafting, he is a mild mannered adventurer!

Bob works hard and is dedicated to keeping the balloon business safe, exciting and enjoyable for every passenger that flies with Balloons Above the Valley. His easy-going personality makes him your ideal guide when floating over the beautiful wine country.

Pilot Jacob “Jake” Molner

Pilot Jacob “Jake” Molnar

Jacob is Chief Pilot for Balloon Above the Valley and has been around balloons all his life taking his first balloon ride when he was 6 months old, still in diapers! Jacob is a third generation Pilot that has grown up flying in the Napa Valley, he also has experience flying in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Arizona. He looks forward to sharing the beauty of the Napa Valley with the new friendly faces he meets every day and giving them the best balloon ride they can imagine! When Jacob’s not in a balloon he can be found spending time with family, riding motorcycles, hiking, mountain biking or doing pretty much anything else you can imagine outdoors!

Pilot Chad Cassell

Pilot Chad Cassell

Chad grew up in Pennsylvania and was raised in a ballooning family so his flying began when he was a young boy. His career as a commercial hot air balloon pilot as taken him to many parts of the country that include flying in not only Chester Springs, PA but Driggs, ID and Phoenix, AZ before joining out team this year. Chad is an instructor in hot air balloons and works hard volunteering his time to the Balloon Federation of America Youth Camp committee.

Pilot Russ James

Pilot Russ James

Interested in things that fly from an early age he learned to fly balloons for the recreational aspect but soon became addicted to the challenges that face balloon pilots every day. Raised in the rural central valley of California, this self-proclaimed “hick-from-the-sticks” has been flying for over 25 plus years with over 20 years in Napa Valley. He is a longtime flight instructor and often shares his passion for safety at pilot safety seminars. Russ’ family includes over a dozen other balloon pilots scattered from coast to coast. There is never “nothing” to talk about at family gatherings. When not flying Russ keeps up the family farm, raising rice and cattle.


We are eager to assist you. Feel free to contact us with any question at 800.464.6824