Mike Shrum became interested in ballooning in 1995 while residing in Longview, Texas. He had his first ride at the Great Texas Balloon Race and was instantly hooked. Mike is often heard saying, “Your first balloon ride is free – the next one costs you $30,000.”
Later that year he moved back to New Mexico and began crewing for local balloon pilots.
He entered private pilot ground school in October, 1997 and bought his first balloon, an Aerostar RX-7, that November. On February 28th, 1998 he received his private Lighter Than Air free balloon license. In May, 2000 he bought the 90,000 cubic foot Aerostar RX-8 he flies today. In August, 2001 ‘La Ristra,’ the world’s largest Chile Ristra, was acquired by Mike. Both balloons are owned and operated by the Flying Chili Peppers Balloon Company, LLC.
Mike earned his commercial rating in November, 2002. He has logged hours in 5 different types and sizes of balloons, and four different manufacturers. He works full time as a project manager for Smart Office Services based in Grand Rapids, Michigan.