Two Eagles Flight Team

The Two Eagles Flight Team consists of two World-renowned balloon pilots, Troy Bradley and Leonid Tiukhtyaev.

Troy Bradley, Two Eagles Pilot

Troy Bradley, Pilot

At 50, Troy has spent his lifetime in the air. Soloing at age 14, he has logged more than 6,200 hours aloft, and has nearly 60 world ballooning records to his credit.

His many awards include the highest honor placed on balloonists worldwide, the Montgolfiere Diploma, for exceptional achievement in ballooning. He is the first person in history to set records in gas, hot air, and Roziere balloons. (Roziere balloons are hybrid balloons that use both hot air and helium.)

In 1992, he made the first US to Africa balloon flight and set the absolute duration record (6 days) for all types of balloons. In 2002, Troy broke the oldest standing aviation record flying a very tiny gas balloon over 1,200 miles. The previous record of 500 miles stood for 80 years.

Troy owns and operates a commercial balloon company called "Star Trail, Inc. ", and lives with his wife, Tami and their two children in Albuquerque, NM. For more information about Troy Bradley and his accomplishments, please visit his web site:

Leonid Tiukhtyaev, Two Eagles Pilot

Leonid Tiukhtyaev, Pilot

Leonid, 58 years old from Moscow, Russia is a highly accomplished hot air and gas balloon pilot. Flying since 1996, he is the only lighter-than-air pilot in the world to have flown hot air, gas, and Roziere balloons, and hot air, gas, and Roziere airships. He is the President of Balloon Federation of Russia and has participated in many long distance gas balloon races in the United States and Europe including the prestigious America’s Challenge balloon race (Silver medalist on 2012) and the Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennett (participated in 2010, 2012 and 2014).

Leonid was awarded the Santos-Domont Gold Airship Medal and FAI Gold Badge with three diamonds. Since 2008, Leonid is the undisputed leader of the ballooning project called "Russian Records Factory." During this time, Leonid has established 8 World Records.

By profession, Leonid is a businessman. At home, Leonid is the loving grandfather of four grandchildren.

Support Team

Lioudmila Alexeenko, Translator

Lioudmila Alexeenko, Translator

Tim Baggett

Tim Baggett, Flight Tracking

Tim Baggett became involved in ballooning in 1995. After moving to Austin the following year, Tim helped a local pilot construct three hot air and gas balloons. Since 2001, he has been actively involved in gas ballooning, volunteering in the command center for the America's Challenge and the Gordon Bennett races, as well as other events. An amateur radio operator since 1984, Tim began using computers and radio technology to track balloon long distance and high altitude flights in 2000. He has continued to develop his flight tracking system as an aid to flight teams in the United States and abroad. When not ballooning, Tim is an electrical engineer who thinks in binary for a small semiconductor company in Austin, Texas.

David Bair

David Bair, Recovery Crew Coordination

Dave has been involved in ballooning since the late 1970’s and owned his first balloon with his brother, John, in 1990. He has been active ever since. It has been a family affair for him and his wife, Jessica, and two kids, Erin and Andrew. Dave grew up in Albuquerque and was involved with the Fiesta as passenger, pilot, and volunteer. His introduction to ballooning was primarily through his parents, Ray and Carol, and crewing at Fiesta.

Dave, with over 700 hours, is commercially rated for both hot air and gas balloons. He got his hot air private certificate in 1989, commercial in 1991 and the gas rating in 2003. The gas rating came from a trip to Germany to learn from world record holder, Wilhelm Eimers. Dave continues to fly as a hobby, for commercial advertising, and as a flight instructor in Colorado Springs.

Dave has served in the Gas Ballooning world for several years as a participant and then director of the Gas Command Center for AIBF. This included running the command center for five years, including two Gordon Bennett races held in Albuquerque. His most exciting gas flight was a hydrogen balloon flight over the Alps from Sonthofen, Germany to just southwest of Venice, Italy.

Ray Bair, NAA Observer

Ray Bair, NAA Observer

Ray will be responsible for the official documentation of the flight and preparation of materials necessary for record homologation. Ray has been involved in ballooning since the late 1970’s; he was employed by Sandia National Laboratories and retired as a Technical Director after 31 years. Ray is commercially rated for both hot air and gas balloons. He is an active flight instructor and has served as a Designated Pilot Examiner and Aviation Safety Counselor for the FAA since 1993.

Tamara Bradley

Tamara Bradley, Crew Member

Tami is one of the few pilots in the United States that has logged more piloting hours in gas balloons rather than the more common hot air balloons. She has flown with three lighter-than-air gases; hydrogen, helium, and anhydrous ammonia. She has competed in 5 America's Challenges (winning in 1998), 2 Coupe Aeronautique Gordon Bennetts, and a World Gas Balloon Championship. To date, her greatest distance is 1,389 miles and her greatest duration is 59 hours aloft.

Tim Cole

Tim Cole, Flight Director

Tim Cole has served in one capacity or another with United States around-the-world ballooning attempts since 1981. He flew as co-pilot with Steve Fossett in the 1994 record-setting transatlantic balloon flight, and served on the team for Fossett's January 1997 attempt, which set absolute duration and distance records, and for Fossett’s January 1998 attempt. As chief engineer, Cole oversees the operational readiness of all systems, improvements of systems and design changes. Cole is a holder of two world and 26 national ballooning records, and was inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame. A 1991 duration record flight was cited by the National Aeronautics Association as one of the top 10 flights of 1991. In 1995, Cole, along with Dennis Brown, was awarded the Diploma Montgolfier, the highest award given to a balloonist. He has been an agent with Farmers Insurance Group, in Greeley, Colo., for the past 26 years.

Nancy J. Cooke

Nancy J. Cooke, PH.D., Flight Scientist

Nancy J. Cooke is a professor of Human Systems Engineering at Arizona State University and is Science Director of the Cognitive Engineering Research Institute in Mesa, AZ. She is also Cognitive Track Editor of Human Factors, a member and chair of the National Research Council's Board on Human Systems Integration, a member of the National Research Council's Soldier System Panel, and a chair of the NRC consensus study committee on The Science of Team Science. She also has served on the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. Dr. Cooke has organized annual workshops on the Human Factors of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles since 2004, has co-edited Human Factors of Remotely Operated Vehicles, published by Elsevier, The Best of Human Factors (with Eduardo Salas and published by HFES) and has co-authored (with Frank Durso), Stories of Modern Technology Failures and Cognitive Engineering Successes, published by Taylor and Francis.

Peter Cuneo, Technical Advisor

Peter Cuneo, Technical Advisor

Guy Feltman

Guy Feltman, Air Traffic Control Coordinator

Guy will be instrumental in working with the Air Traffic Controllers throughout the Two Eagles flight. He worked at the Albuquerque and Houston Air Route Traffic Control Centers from 1978 to 2007. Having performed several roles within the ARTCC during his career, he is well versed in the operations. He has also been working in the America’s Challenge Gas Command Center since 2007.

Retiring has allowed Guy to more actively pursue his many hobbies; hiking, snowshoeing, fly fishing, photography, skiing, motorcycling, ATVing, and travel. He also volunteers as a Team Leader for Operation Christmas Child and at ABQ Isotopes stadium as a Game Day Grounds Crewmember.

Luiz Fonseca

Luiz Fonseca, Brazilian Translator

Luiz is an Air Traffic Controller (Tower, Approach Control, Area Center) English (aero), Portuguese (aero), French, Spanish Air and Ground Navigation, Weather Forecasts Aeronautical Communication ( air to air, air to ground, ground to ground ) Certified Balloon Pilot - Member of the Brazilian Balloning Confederation since 1994. Member of the Technical team – Steward for the Pre-World Championship 2013 under direction of Matijhs de Bruijn. Measuring, scoring and complaints support. Crew chief for Andrew Petrehn (Team USA) at the 21st FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship 2014. Landowner relation support for all American teams at the 21st FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship 2014.

Letitia Hill

Letitia Hill, Social Media Director

Letitia lives and works in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, New Mexico. Is presently completing a Bachelors of Fine Arts-Studio at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design and working towards her Masters of Fine Arts-Studio in Florence, Italy. Letitia is represented by Raven Hill Designs, LLC.

In addition to her studio work, Letitia is the Editor in Chief of FlyGas, the premier international gas ballooning community, reporting LIVE on the Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett and the America's Challenge, and is the Viticulturist for her family's biodynamic vineyard, South Valley Vineyard.

“In a world where art and design overlap and flow into each other, Hill is adept at dancing across the lines where form, function and design is at the forefront.” (Kooser, July 1999)

Sabu Ichiyoshi, Japanese Liaison

Sabu Ichiyoshi, Japanese Liaison

Sabu is a highly decorated gas and hot air balloon pilot, receiving his license in 1972 in Augsburg Germany, he became the first Japanese balloon pilot after World War II. He has set many National and World records in balloons. He flew over Mount Fuji and made an attempt to fly a balloon over Mount Everest. He is the FAI/CIA delegate for Japan and International Secretary for Balloon Federation of Japan. He was the chairman of the BFJ from 1982 - 1985, and currently operates Aeronauts Inc. handling Cameron Balloons, ABC Lightships, and DMR200 satellite transceivers from SatPro.

Paul Jorgenson

Paul R. Jorgenson, Air Traffic Control and Communications Coordinator

Paul holds a Commercial and Instrument FAA license with Airplane Single and Multi-Engine Land and Glider ratings. He has over 13000 hours in aircraft of all types. While having been a flight instructor (single, multi, instrument), air taxi pilot, and freight pilot, the majority of Paul’s flying was done as a Photo Mapping Pilot. Paul also holds a FAI Silver and Gold Badges in gliders plus has two Arizona state gliding records in the Sports category. Paul is an Amateur Extra Class radio operator with the FCC call sign of KE7HR. Paul is a Life Member of the American Radio Relay League. Paul is Past President of the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club and as served as a team leader in the King County (WA) Amateur Radio Emergency Service. He is currently a Board Member and works on the repeaters for the Scottsdale Amateur Radio Club. Paul joined the National Speleological Society (NSS) in 1994 and is a Life Member. He has served as and President or Chairman, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer for the Arizona Regional Association and the Central Arizona Grotto – internal organizations of the NSS. Paul was the editor of the primary publication of the Communications and Electronics Section of the NSS – SPELEONICS – for 10 years, along with authoring several papers for SPELEONICS.

Kaoru Kawasoe

Kaoru Kawasoe, Official Launch Observer

Kaoru was intrigued with balloons from the first time he saw one in 1981.  Three short years later, in 1984, he received his license to pilot balloons.  He is a seasoned competitor representing Japan in the 1991 and 1999 World Hot Air Balloon Championships. In 2002, he was awarded the FAI Air Sport Medal. He has been heavily involved in the Saga International Balloon Fiesta as a vice-chairperson from 1988.  One of his greatest passions is acting as a flight instructor.  Through his wealth of experience he has taught many students the art of flying balloons. When he is not flying, Kaoru is just as happy to be at his sewing machine. Over the years, he has built three hot air balloon envelopes.

John Kugler, Technical Advisor

John Kugler, Technical Advisor

Whit Landvater, Webmaster

Whit Landvater, Webmaster

Whit Landvater started flying balloons in Albuquerque in 1978 and has since flown balloons of all shapes and sizes throughout the United States, Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, and Holland. He currently resides in the Lake Tahoe region of rural northern Nevada where he spends his mornings flying exclusive balloon charters at Balloon Nevada. He spends the rest of his day (and night) creating web sites and graphic design solutions at Area Fiftyone.

Art Lloyd, Jr.

Art Lloyd, Jr., Mission Control Support

Larry Merry, Mission Control Support

Larry Merry, Mission Control Support

Kevin Miko

Kevin Miko, Mission Control Support

A retired Naval Flight Officer, Kevin is an instrument rated, fixed wing flight instructor as well as a balloon pilot with over 4500 hours as pilot in command of various aircraft. His fascination with Lighter-Than-Air in general and balloons in particular began when he was 15 years old and “borrowed” the January 1972 edition of Popular Science from his local library. He took his first flight in a balloon in 1979 in Erie Pennsylvania, bought his first balloon in 1989 and has been flying one thing or another ever since. He has flown balloons commercially for clients such as: General Motors Corporation, Crown Royal, M&M Mars, Kellogg’s ~ Tony the Tiger & Kroger Food Stores. Originally from New Jersey, Kevin calls Michigan home when he’s not flying for Rainbow Ryders locally. Proud Dad of a 16 year old daughter named Emma, Kevin is also an amateur astronomer and ham radio enthusiast.

Bert Padelt, Launchmaster

Bert Padelt, Launchmaster

Bert Padelt built the Two Eagles Balloon envelope, and is responsible for the launch assembly process. Owner of “Best” Aviation services in Bally Pennsylvania, Bert and his wife Joanie run a full time repair station for both hot air and gas balloons. His balloons hold FAI world class records in AX ( hot air), AA (gas), and AM (Rozier) categories. He was the Systems Director for Steve Fossett’s round the world balloon attempts including his successful flight in the Summer of 2002. He built the smallest manned gas balloon to ever cross the Atlantic Ocean when David Hempelman Adams flew his thousand cubic meter balloon from St. Johns Newfoundland to Nolay France in the summer of 2007 and in so doing set 5 FAI world class distance and duration records. In 2011 Bert was awarded the Montoglifer Diploma, the highest honor bestowed on a balloonist world wide, for his contribution to the sport of gas ballooning. Bert has also been a board member of the Gas Division of The Balloon Federation of America for the past 17 years.

Takero Sakai

Takero Sakai, Crewmember

Takero, a licensed balloon pilot since 1987, has approximately 700 hours of flight time. He has been involved in the Saga International Balloon Fiesta since 1984, serving on the board since 1986. He was involved in the two World Hot Air Balloon Championships that Saga hosted in 1989 and 1997. He was awarded the FAI Air Sport Medal in 2012. Professionally, he worked in the Saga City office and retired in 2009. Since retiring, whenever the weather is good you will find him out flying and instructing the next generation of young pilots.

Alexandra Semenishina

Alexandra Semenishina, Project Coordinator and Russia Liaison

Alexandra has been fond of ballooning since childhood. Since 2009, she has been working as a manager in Russian Records Factory ballooning projects. Coordinating and preparing all administrative matters for the participation of the team in the World Championships and Cups. Her skills as a photographer and interpreter are welcome assets to the Two Eagles team. She has one baby boy that keeps her busy when not ballooning.

Yukiko Shigematsu

Yukiko Shigematsu, Saga Liaison

Yukiko was working as a kindergarten teacher the first time she saw a balloon in 1984.  She immediately fell in love with the sport and wanted to fly herself.  In 1988, her dream became a reality when she received her pilot license; becoming the first female balloon pilot in Saga. In 2006, she started her own business selling and repairing balloons.  It is the only balloon repair station in Saga.  Beyond repairing damaged balloons, she has used her talents as a seamstress to help construct several new balloons.

Steve Shope

Dr. Steven M. Shope, Ph.D., Mission Control Director

Steven Shope is the President of Sandia Research Corporation, a Mesa-based high-technology company providing creative technology solutions to difficult challenges facing our US Government customers. This included work on high-altitude scientific gas flights into the stratosphere (>100,000 ft). Steve founded Sandia Research in 1987. Steve holds B.A., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees, all in physics. His Ph.D. is from Penn State. In addition to his role with Sandia Research Corporation, Shope, along with his wife, founded in 2004 the not-for-profit Cognitive Engineering Research Institute (CERI). He currently serves as the Chairman of CERI. CERI focuses on complex socio-technical systems involving the interactions of humans and complex technology. CERI is a center of excellence for the study of humans interacting with Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Steven is a hot air balloon owner (Moon Balloon) and pilot. Steve was Event Director for five international ballooning competitions including two Federation Aeronautique International (FAI) Category I Events. One of these was the Coupe de Gorden Bennett. Shope is married to ASU Professor, Dr. Nancy Cooke. Steve was Project Director for two Around-the-World balloon flight attempts. They have three children, Jackie, Michaela, and Alexis.

Phillip E. Styka

Colonel Phillip E. Styka, Air Force (ret) Flight Surgeon

Colonel Styka joined the 64th Tactical Airlift Squadron (AFRES) O’Hare ARFF in June 1983 while completing his training as an anesthesiology resident in Chicago. He quickly attended the Aerospace Medicine Primary course from which he graduated Honor Graduate in April 1984. Upon his return to O’Hare ARFF he functioned as the Squadron Medical Element until his transfer to the 150th Medical Squadron in March 1985. Colonel Styka has subsequently functioned as the Chief of Flight Medicine, Chief of Aerospace Medicine and Chief of Professional Services. December 2002 Colonel Styka was selected to be State Air Surgeon New Mexico. In June 2006 he assumed command of the 150th Medical Group and continued in the role of State Air Surgeon. September 2009 Colonel Styka became Joint Surgeon for the New Mexico National Guard. April 2012 he also assumed the position once again as Commander 150th Medical Group.

As a civilian, Dr. Styka is currently an anesthesiologist, pain management specialist, and critical care physician in private practice working at eight hospitals in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. He is a former assistant professor of anesthesiology at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Styka holds various leadership positions at local hospitals and in his private practice. He is a diplomat of the American Board of Anesthesiology and maintains active memberships in the American Society of Anesthesiology, the New Mexico Society of Anesthesiologists, the New Mexico Medical Society, the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States, and the Alliance of Air National Guard Flight Surgeons.

Mark Sullivan, Technical Advisor

Mark Sullivan, Technical Advisor

Luc Trullemans

Luc Trullemans, Meteorologist

Luc is undeniably the world’s premier meteorologist for long distance and duration balloon flights. His record is unparalleled in guiding balloons through complex weather patterns to a successful conclusion. He was the meteorologist for both Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones on the first Around-The-World Roziere balloon flight, and Steve Fossett’s solo Around-The-World balloon flight. He has also provided the meteorological support for numerous Gordon Bennett winners. Proper weather forecasting is the key on our attempt, and Luc is the best in the world at it.

Pavel Vakhlamov, Translator

Pavel Vakhlamov, Translator

Kim Vesely, Command Center Liaison

Kim Vesely, Command Center Liaison

As a former TV news reporter and freelance writer, Kim Vesely has covered and written about many of gas ballooning's great "firsts" including the Double Eagle II trans-Atlantic crossing, Double Eagle V trans-Pacific crossing, and the Kitty Hawk flight across North America. She has served as the Command Center liaison to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta media team for the past thirteen America's Challenge gas balloon distance races and the 2005 and 2008 Coupe Gordon Bennett. Kim holds a commercial hot-air balloon rating and is currently employed as Communications Officer for the Rio Rancho (NM) Public Schools.