Captain Bob Barbarick is the ‘last man standing ~> and still flying’ hot air balloons of the original pioneers of hot air ballooning in the United States ! Yes ! As far as we know, he is the last pioneer of hot air ballooning in the USA still flying !
He began ballooning in the early 70s right here in Napa Valley, flying with his fellow balloonist enthusiasts and eventually flying the growing numbers of people that would gather around upon their landing and yes, call out: “We want to go up !“
So, they began taking some of these many people Up ! And, the rest is history, as Bob formed Balloons Above the Valley in 1977 and the company has grown to flying over 10,000 people per year for many years now.
Bob has logged over 7000 flight hours in his career and continues to fly our passengers today. It is his vision and passion for the aeronautical adventure of ballooning that has made hot air ballooning one of the top 3 most chosen activities by visitors to the Napa Valley, and made ballooning and balloon images one of the most enduring icons of Napa Valley.
So, Bob extends to you his welcoming invite : Come Fly with Us !
Jacob “Jake” Molnar
Jacob is Chief Pilot for Balloons 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!
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.