News and Tribune

Clark County

April 24, 2013

Floating on air: Jerry Copas, local balloonist, reflects on his career and competitions



After seeing balloons in “The Wizard of Oz” and other films, he decided he wanted to ride the wind with them.

At about 16 years old, Copas said he seriously began training for flight. He said looking back, he’s not sure how his parents were comfortable with the idea of flying completely at the whim of the wind.

“As a parent myself now, I ask the same kind of questions of myself sometimes,” Copas said. “My son is 14, and I think back then, my parents must have been pretty perceptive that this was an interesting activity that their kid was interested in and there were probably a lot worse things he could get into.”

After getting his pilot’s license at 18, he and his father, Elwood, purchased a second-hand balloon for him to get some experience with flight. He said it was a hobby at that point, going on to get a degree in college and working full-time, but it eventually became his job.

He and Kathy flew specialized balloons for Brown-Forman, each shaped like bottles of Early Times and Jack Daniel’s bottles, across the country. He said while they traveled the country, they always considered Southern Indiana home.

“It was home and like I said, I grew up here,” Copas said. “I’ve always had anchors here and as for a place to raise a family and a son, I wouldn’t dream of anywhere else. Wherever my son ends up, I hope he takes a little part of living in Indiana with him because it’s not a bad place to grow up, that’s for sure.”

Copas is the president of the Kentucky Balloon Society. While the sport is a lot of fun and draws people from all sorts of backgrounds, he said he’s seeing more gray hair in the sport than he likes.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Easter 2014 photos

Click on any photo to purchase it.

Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
2013 Photos of the year

Take a look at our most memorable photos from 2013.