Biography

A Little Bit About Paul…

Photo by Todd Balcom
Photo by Todd Balcom

48 years flying, building and witnessing what does and also what doesn’t work, has it’s advantages.  Full-time since 1979, Paul has specialized in fabricating, repairing and inspecting hot air balloons, and loving every minute of it.  Paul is passionate about creativity, safety, and sharing his knowledge with others on their own flight paths.

Paul was drawn into ballooning through an interest in photography in 1973, while still in high school. His enthusiasm quickly led him to build a balloon at the age of 17, with the help of his high school art teacher and mentor, Brian Boland. In college, Paul continued designing and building hot air balloons and fabricated cold air “art” inflatables as an extra-curricular activity. He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in photography in 1979. Shortly after graduation Paul focused on growing his hot air balloon business. It was at this time too, that he designed and built a few accessories for his own balloon; and as friends began asking for similar items for their balloons, Paul decided to make his custom products available to balloonists throughout the world via a mail-order business, which is still in operation today.


Covers of Paul’s Early Catalogs

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TIMELINE OF ACHIEVEMENTS:

  • 1974 to 1975, Built first Experimental hot air balloon.
  • 1975, Private Pilot license, hot air balloon.
  • 1978, Commercial Pilot license, hot air balloon.
  • 1979, Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, Rhode Island School of Design.
  • 1979 to present, Hot air balloon banner design & fabrication.
  • 1979 to 1999, Hot air balloon ride operations in coastal Rhode Island.
  • 1979 to 1980 Geodesic hot air balloon development.
  • 1980 to present, Worldwide balloon equipment mail order business.
  • 1980, Designed and built World’s first glass bottom hot air balloon basket.
  • 1980 to 2011, Dealer and Distributor for Aerostar International.
  • 1980 to 2010, Stumpf cold air promotional balloons, design & manufacturing.
  • 1982 to 1992, Organized The Montgolfier Hot Air Balloon Regatta in Providence, RI.
  • 1982 to present, FAA certified balloon repair and inspection station.
  • 1985 to present, Custom Interior balloon displays, design & manufacturing.
  • 1990 to 1995, Manufactured Radio-Controlled hot air balloons.
  • 2007, Aero Club of New England, Vermont Award.
  • 2010 to present, Designed & manufacture Stumpf super lightweight hot air balloon systems.
  • 2013 to present, Manufacturing digitally printed hot air balloon banners for individuals and balloon events throughout the US.
  • 2012 to present, Mentoring “build your own balloon” apprentices.
  • 2019, Ed Yost Master Pilot Award.
  • 2020, BFA Distinguished Pilot Award 2020.
  • 2020, Cross country gas balloon flight with Bert Padelt & Noah Forden.

Don’t miss the amazing podcasts that Aunty Monkey offers. CLICK HERE for Episode #19 – Paul Stumpf – Ballooning Classic Pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the ultra-light ballooning

Gallery

Click on pictures to enlarge


VIDEO SECTION

I first met filmmaker Scott Salter in 1978 when we were students at the Rhode Island School of Design.  We immediately struck up a friendship and Scott soon became enamored with my hot air balloon activities.  For his degree project, Scott decided to make a documentary film about the designing and building of a hot air balloon I was making at the time. Our collaboration resulted in the film False Start.  Scott graduated from RISD in 1980 and embarked on his television and film career.  Shortly afterwards, he was contracted to make a series of documentary films about several hot air balloon adventure flights showcasing the natural wonders of Venezuela.  The final finished compilation film, Above the Lost World, met with critical acclaim and was shown on the Discovery Channel.  Over the years we’ve remained friends and continue to share our passions of ballooning and film-making.  

I hope you enjoy the selection of films, by Scott Salter.

Video Link

Paul and Scott

Video Link
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