Pacific Coast Aeronauts

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PCA Safety Seminar 2017

Each year the Pacific Coast Aeronauts organizes a Balloon Federation of America approved Safety Seminar for balloon enthusiasts of all levels of interest: pilots, crew and observers. The seminar is open to members and non members alike.

This year the seminar is scheduled for Saturday March 25th at Emanuel Lutheran Church in Lodi, CA from 8:00 am - 4:00 pm. Same day registration will begin at 7:30 am and topic presentations will begin at 8:00 am. Downloadable presentation materials will be posted here for you to print out prior to the seminar.

A link to the 2017 Safety Seminar registration form are listed below. Right-click (control-click on a Mac) the link and choose “Save Link As...” to save the .pdf document to your computer.
Safety Seminar Announcement and Registration Form

Need a hotel room for the seminar? Google Maps "active" listing for nearby hotels is at: Hotels Here!

2017 Seminar Topics/Presenters


  • Pilot Decision Making Panel / FAR Review - Jim Abell
  • Balloon Jeopardy - Larry Seiler
  • Powerline Safety - Pam Purdue - Gov't Representative/Liaison to PG&E
  • Weather - Ashley Helmetag - NOAA Meteorologist from Fremont ATC Center
  • Propane and Maintenance - Alan Sanderson
  • Crew Safety - Leigh Bradbury
  • Accidents - Dana Thornton

PCA Safety Seminar - Presenter Bio


Ashley Helmetag is a meteorologist at NWS Center Weather Service Unit in Fremont, CA at the Oakland Air Route Traffic Control Center. She obtained a B.S Aviation Meteorology, Air Traffic Control minor from Florida Institute of Technology (2007), and M.S Aeronautical Science, Aviation Human Factors from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (in progress). Started with the NWS in 2010 and prior to the NWS she worked with the private sector as an assistant supervisor at a meteorology and flight planning company in Houston, TX. Ashley loves all things weather and aviation related. She is a licensed skydiver and plans to return to flying and finish her private pilot license this summer.

Pam Purdue is a Senior Public Safety Specialist for Pacific Gas and Electric. When not responding to wildfires or other disasters where she coordinates electrical restoration, she is working on Electric Emergency Preparedness and Public Partnerships. She has an extensive background in PG & E’s electrical system and safety in and around that infrastructure.

Jim Abell started flying balloons in 2000 and in 2002 bought a Lindstrand 90, “Kiphaven”. He has participated in the AIBF from 2000 – 2009, and returned again last year. Jim has flown in the GRBR since 2004 and as a member of the GRBR Dawn Patrol for the last 5 years. From 2004 thru 2010 he flew for Up and Away Ballooning in Sonoma County, gaining experience flying larger ride balloons. In 2007 Jim became the DPE for the OAK FSDO and has enjoyed helping to bring several new pilots into our sport.

Leigh Bradbury received his commercial LTA balloon rating in 1980 and his commercial LTA airship rating in 1993. He flew a gas balloon for 9 hours in 1994 and had the airborne heater restriction removed. He retired from the Navy and has worked as a blimp pilot for Hood and other companies.

Alan Sanderson is the Owner and Manager of Linden Hot Air Service.  January 2000 to Present as an aircraft repair station operating under an FAA Part 145.

Larry Seiler has more than 700 hours of flight time between fixed wing,helicopter, blimp and balloon. He holds the commericaial LTA and Private SEL certificates, with a high performance endorsement. He has attended the Windsor Balloon Rally, Great Reno Balloon Race where he placed several times in the top 20 as well as participating in Dawn Patrol, Albuquerque International Fiesta and the Dubai Desert Paradise event in 2006. He worked for the FAA, installing new computer networks in airport control towers and flight control centers. He started organizing safety seminars in 1987, which are now sponsored and organized by the Pacific Coast Aeronauts.

Dana Thornton is a long time pilot; he flies Reno, Montague, Grants Pass, Leon Mexico and other events. Dana started his Aviation career by obtaining his fixed wing private pilot’s license in 1977 at the age of 17. In 1978 he began balloon crewing for his brother, Ron and went on to obtain his commercial HAB rating in Nov. of 1980 and now has nearly 1500 hours in HAB. Dana’s ballooning has taken him to balloon events in the 8 Western states. He’s been flying Dawn Patrol since 1981 and has 5 flights to 18000. His longest flight originated from the Morgan Hill/Gilroy area taking him over the Diablo range to the California Central Valley covering 56 statute miles. Dana had been a speaker at eight PCA safety seminars, and has achieved the BFA Pilot Achievement Award Level 6.


PCA Safety Seminar Presentations Material


Lost Balloon
What's wrong with this picture? We'll discuss it at the Safety Seminar.


There will be no handouts available at the seminar. Printable/Downloadable presentation materials will be made available once we have them by individual links and once they are all available, by single .zip file download.

Right-click (control-click on a Mac) the link and choose “Save Link As...” to save the document(s) to your computer.

Crew Safety - Presentation material from Leigh Bradbury:
Crew Management - .pdf file 612 kb

FAR - Presentation material from Jim Abell:
FAR Review - .pdf file 140 kb

Pilot Decision Making:

Weather: The following files are from our 2014 Safety Seminar and are kept available here for reference. Both of these files contain the same information and both of these are large downloads. The two per page version is smaller but also a little harder to see because the images are reduced in size. Whichever works best for you.
Helpful Weather Links - 1 per page 18.6 mb
Helpful Weather Links - 2 per page (smaller download) 12.3 mb