November 27 2021 – the 45 year anniversary of receipt of my pilot certificate. Presented to me in New Zealand by Mr. Laurie Soffe. My first experience standing in an open wicker basket was 8 months earlier March 23rd 1976 with pilot Mr. Jim Greig. I had found my life’s calling. His Bernia balloon had been destroyed during a barbed wire fence landing and I was there for its repair and test flight. I was there also to start 45 year’s of fascination with aviation – pilot of hot air and gas ballooning as well as flying fixed wing aircraft.
What a privilege! What a blessing to dedicate myself to my passion of soaring high, either in a balloon basket or at the controls of an aeroplane. And there have been huge personal challenges.
As this year of 2021 rushes to an end I am excited to embrace 2022, a year where my writing will dominate my life. My memoir, Conquering Clouds, will be published March 1st. And I will be hosting book signings and talks to honour my commitment to sharing my story.
I have written Conquering Clouds with 4 primary goals:
#1 To hopefully find the story of my biological father, his life’s journey. I have his name and that is all. Professional search organisations have not been able to find him but I will be trying in any and all potential media interviews I take on.
#2 To tell the story how a pod of dolphins saved my life – April 29, 1989.
#3 To share the demanding, exhilarating experience of piloting a hydrogen balloon along the snow covered Swiss Alps & the Italian Dolomites to land in an Italian Vineyard. No sleep for 33 hours, water bottles frozen, alpine thermals, threatening clouds but I embraced it all. At the age of 75, my passion for my aerial playground remained supreme.
#4 A legacy for my 2 grandchildren, Tyler and Josie Wilson.