Up, up, and away!
Theresa Ravencraft, a member of Union Rural Electric Cooperative, has written for television and print media. She is creator/writer of www.raveaboutfood.com.
Customers get a new perspective from co-op member’s ballooning business.
By Theresa Ravencraft
Is there a better way to see the beauty of our Ohio landscape than from the sky? Bob Scobee has known the answer to this question for most of his life. He is the owner/operator of Fly Ohio Ballooning and a longtime resident of Marysville, Ohio. “When I started ballooning, I knew that's what I'd be doing for the rest of my life,” says Bob.
In his mid-20s, Bob attended a friend's birthday party, where he stepped inside the basket of a hot air balloon for the very first time. “I was hooked, that was it. I bought a balloon before I had my license,” says Bob. He went on to earn his FAA balloon license in 1987 and founded Fly Ohio Ballooning in 1989.
This year marks his 34th year of flying balloons. Bob and his crew offer hot air balloon rides, commercial balloon advertising, balloon repairs, and balloon flying lessons. Customers fly with Bob for all sorts of reasons. It might be a memorable way to celebrate an anniversary or a special birthday or someone might even want to "pop the question" at 1000 feet in the air.
Fly Ohio Ballooning has flown commercial flights for many companies in Ohio, including Kroger, Honda of Marysville, and Swan Cleaners, to name a few. But their flying achievements extend well beyond the boundaries of Ohio. Bob and his team of FAA licensed pilots have competed in four US National Hot Air Balloon Championships, placing as high as fourteenth out of the top one hundred pilots in the nation. He has also competed in balloon rallies and has done commercial balloon advertising in over a dozen states.
“I don't balloon to work; I balloon to travel. I would almost pay them to do this job,” Bob says. He has flown in 24 states and has enjoyed seeing and learning about the areas he visits. It's an adventurous way to see it all.
Bob is an FAA certified instructor and has passed on his love of flying to his son, Scott. Scott Scobee is currently a student at The Ohio State University and received his commercial airplane pilot license in August of 2020. He added his commercial balloon pilot license in August 2021. When Scott graduates next summer, his goal is to become a commercial airline pilot.
“Another cool part of the job is getting to travel with my son, Scott,” Bob says proudly. Bob took Scott to Idaho a few years ago to fly the Touchstone Energy balloon. Afterwards they hiked through Glacier National Park. They saw native wildlife and forest fires while hiking. Bob says, “It was impressive and we learned something. Any amount of time you get to spend with your kids is golden.”
Having traveled as much as Bob has, one might think it would be difficult to pick a favorite spot to fly. Not true. As an alumnus of The Ohio State University, one of Bob's favorite places to fly is over Ohio Stadium in Columbus during Buckeye football games. “I've flown over most of the Big Ten stadiums and flown nearly 200 times over the Ohio Stadium. When you're 1000 feet up, the stadium is really something to see,” says Bob.
Another service offered by Fly Ohio Ballooning is repairing and selling hot air balloons for Lindstrand Balloons USA. Last year during the pandemic, Lindstrand stopped manufacturing balloons and began making the components for face masks. Bob worked to get these components into the hands of people who would sew them together. The finished masks were distributed to hot-spot cities throughout the United States. “The masks were used by hospital patients around the country,” says Bob, “It was a team effort.”
Next time you see a hot air balloon floating overhead and you wonder, “Who is that?”, it’s most likely Bob Scobee. And he’s probably giving someone a new perspective of the place they call home. It’s a perspective that he never takes for granted, “I have an office with a view and I enjoy what I do,” says Bob. “It doesn’t get any better than that.”
Fly Ohio Ballooning Inc., 20724 Wolford Maskill Road, Marysville, Ohio 43040. 614-209-1449; www.flyohioballooning.com
Main photo: Hot air balloons fly over the up-ground reservoir in Marysville. Photo credit: Anne Dodge
Photos, left to right: Fly Ohio Ballooning helps a couple celebrate their anniversary with a hot air balloon ride. Photo credit: Theresa Ravencraft
‘Otto’ smiles down on the city as he flies 1000 feet over Route 33 after taking off from Honda of Marysville. Photo credit: Trent Bishop
Bob Scobee and his son, Scott, flying high above the city of Columbus during a football game at the Ohio Stadium. Photo credit: Russ Jurg