Pilot retires with last flight over Natchez
Published 12:18 am Monday, October 20, 2014
NATCHEZ — For almost 25 years, Glen Moyer has soared with the best hot-air balloon pilots.
But following the Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, Moyer is finally putting down the big orb.
Not only did this last weekend prove to be Moyer’s last time participating in the race, but it also confirmed that he likely will never fly again.
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“It’s bittersweet, it’s a difficult decision to make, but I’m beginning a new adventure in my life,” Moyer said on his retirement.
The epiphany came to the Keithville, La., resident when he traveled to Scotland earlier this year, where he traced his roots back to the 1600s.
For the last year, Moyer has worked on moving to Scotland, making it his home.
“It’s kind of the ending of one chapter in my life, closing the book on ballooning, and opening a new chapter in my life, and that’s moving to Scotland,” Moyer said.
Moyer said there is not a lot of ballooning in Scotland, but he has friends in Scotland who assured him he can fly their balloons — only if he wishes to do so.
“I’m not going to get out of it entirely,” Moyer said.
Moyer is editor of Ballooning Magazine and has done balloon announcing, such as being the master of ceremonies for the annual balloon glow in Natchez.
“I’m going to continue doing that, at least until I move over to Scotland,” Moyer said. “So I’m not getting out of the sport, but I’m just going to retire as an active pilot.”
Moyer’s first flight was in 1976, but he got his pilots license in July 1990.
Moyer took his first balloon ride as a television reporter when he resided in Beaumont, Texas.
It was the United State’s Bicentennial, a series of celebrations during the mid-1970s that acknowledged historical events that led to the creation of the nation.
“I always liked to fly as a kid,” Moyer said. “I lived near an airport, and my dad liked to fly.”
Moyer was in his newsroom when he saw a story about a ballooning event in Houston, Texas, for the U.S. Bicentennial.
“I thought it was neat,” Moyer said. “So me and a photographer drove over the next morning.”
Although Moyer did not take to the skies that day, he was promised a balloon ride from the pilot, which Moyer took later on.
Moyer does not have a helicopter license, or an airplane license, but he has flown both.
“I ended up in balloons, I think, because of the romanticism of it,” Moyer said. “I guess I’m a romantic at heart.”
Moyer said he will miss the peace and tranquility of flying.
“That’s what makes it hard to walk away,” Moyer said. “There has been several times in the past where I would consider retiring. But I would go out and make a flight, and my heart would tell me I can’t quit doing this.”
The mind says it’s time to retire, but the heart thinks otherwise,” Moyer said.
Moyer said he will miss his local flight crew from Vidalia, which has spanned three generations of family members.
“They’re like family to me now,” Moyer said. “We reminisced the entire weekend.”
Betsy Sawyer, crewmember for Moyer, said she will miss Moyer.
“We have been crewing for him (Moyer) for so many years,” Sawyer said. “He has become a member of the family.”
Sawyer’s children and grandchildren have had the opportunity to work with him.
“We have had many experiences, not only here, but in multiple states,” Moyer said.
He’s a terrific guy, Sawyer said.
Sawyer’s son, David Sawyer, has crewed with Moyer for 22 years.
“He gave me my first flight when I was 10,” David said. “That was one of the greatest things ever, that’s for sure.”
Moyer has flown in 29 different states, and internationally in England, France, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico and New Zealand.
“I have a pocket full of memories that I will always hold with me,” Moyer said. “Scotland is my new passion, and it burns within me, just as ballooning has.”
Moyer is 61 years old, and he believes flying is over for him, but said some part of him will always remain up in the skies.