Virgin Balloon Flights was first launched in 1994, in the wake of the 'ballooning mania' the followed Sir Richard Brandon's two record breaking hot air balloon rides over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.
But who is at the helm of one of this iconic Virgin brand today?
Way back in 2002, the reins were handed over to chief pilot, Kenneth Karlstrom, to take forward with his own company under the Virgin Balloon Flights brand.
Ken is still our CEO today and was joined a few years ago by Matt Jones as our managing director.
Matt oversees the day to day operational side of the business, while Ken has more of an aviation compliance and mentoring role, taking responsibility for our team of pilots and crew across the UK.
All About Ken
Ken's love for hot air balloons began when he joined his university ballooning club back in Sweden and after flying for a few years as a hobby, he became a commercial passenger balloon pilot and left Sweden for Africa in 1986.
After meeting his wife and moving to England in 1991, he joined Virgin Balloon Flights as a pilot back in 1997. Just three years later, be became chief pilot and just five years after that, became CEO and took on the Virgin Balloon Flights brand under his own company.
Ken is a qualified hot air balloon pilot instructor and examiner and is passionate about encouraging and training new, young pilots to become commercial balloonists.
Several of Virgin Balloon Flights younger pilots were personally trained by Ken and each year he carries out each pilot's annual refresher assessment, known as a base and line check.
Ken's lifelong love of hot air ballooning and bringing the experience to as many people as possible is one of the reasons Virgin Balloon Flights is still going strong after almost 30 years.
All About Matt
A former professional ice hockey player, Matt started his working career with a print business when barely in his 20s, before moving into import and export via a luxury limousine transport company.
By his early 30s, a keen interest in marketing led him to start his own successful company, Boomy, offering web development and digital marketing services and which he still has today.
When Boomy was contracted by Virgin Balloon Flights, after a few years Matt was asked by Ken if he would be interested in taking a full role in the company and he became our MD in 2018.
In the small amount of spare time he has, Matt is a keen snowboarder and jet-skier and still enjoys ice skating when he gets the chance.
In 2022, Ken, Matt and Matt's Boomy business partner Philip launched a brand new experience day company, separate to Virgin Balloon Flights, known as WonderDays.