Meet the NVAloft Balloon Rides Staff


JP Gagnon – Pilot

J.P. has been flying in Napa Valley since 1999 when he moved to the Napa Valley to support his wife’s dream of running a Bed and Breakfast. He started his ballooning career in the Napa Valley and trained with some of the most experienced pilots available. J.P. wears many hats here at the company offering assistance in all areas of the business. In his off hours, J.P. can be found fishing anywhere he can. His smoked salmon is out of site!

Pierre “Pete” Brunner

Pierre started in the industry 1983 as ground crew while attending class at San Diego State University. He earned his commercial pilot’s license in 1988 and began flying in San Diego while building a career in the Insurance industry. He has since flown 5300 hours and over 40,000 passengers. He has participated in the Albuquerque International Balloon event as one of the select ride concession pilots for 20 years, he has competed in the Great Reno Balloon Race, the Kentucky Derby Festival Great Balloon Race as well as many local events. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Pierre Joined Napa Valley Aloft in June of 2014 to return home. Pierre loves flying and enjoys sharing his time in the air and his passion for the sport with his passengers.

Jim Marshall – Pilot

A long time Napa resident, Jim is one of the most experienced pilots in Napa Valley with over 30 years of piloting. Not only a master balloon pilot, Jim also has years of experience in hot air balloon maintenance and repair. Jim has been flying passengers in hot air balloons for 36 years, his first company, founded in 1978  pioneered wine country balloon flights in Sonoma County. In 1979, Jim recognized the need for a balloon repair station in order to comply with FAA requirements for operating a commercial balloon ride business.  He sought training and became certified in repair and inspection of hot air balloons.  With that, Jim and a partner opened one of the first FAA certified balloon repair stations in the world.  This experience in and out of the air has let to opportunities to fly and service balloons in France, Egypt, the Czech Republic and all over the USA, including the Napa Valley where Jim enjoys the supportive and family atmosphere of Napa Valley Aloft.

Jacob Molnar – Pilot

Jacob has grown up flying in the Napa Valley. He’s a third generation pilot that enjoys sharing his love for the sport. He took his first balloon ride with his Grandpa when he was only six months old! Jacob took his first solo flight at the age of 14 and obtained his Private Pilot license as soon as he could at 16. He doesn’t consider flying a job but more of a passion. He started flying commercially in the Napa Valley in 2014. He has hundreds of hours of flight time in some of the largest balloons in North America. 
When he’s not flying commercially, Jacob enjoys competition flying as well. He’s competed in events such as the Great Reno Balloon Race. He also enjoys spending time with his family, hiking and fishing.  

Plan Your Adventure Today

Elevate your Napa Valley balloon ride experience by booking with Napa Valley Aloft Balloon Rides!