A Bit About Us
Wild West Balloon Adventures was started in 1998 by Ian Cox, a longtime Steamboat local. Ian began flying balloons in the Yampa Valley in 1982. Originally from England, he moved to Steamboat in 1979. With his passion for the outdoors and an entrepreneur’s mindset, ballooning was the perfect fit for him. Shortly after starting Wild West, Ian bought Pegasus Balloon Tours, and successfully operated both businesses with his wife Shelley for two decades. After a few years on the crew, Bud Whitehead began flying balloons with Ian in 2011. He and his wife Stacia bought the business on January 1st, 2018. To this day, you will still see both the “Wild West” and “Pegasus” balloons flying over the Steamboat valley.
Meet The Team
Owner | Head Pilot
Bud Whitehead moved to Steamboat in the summer of 1999. At the time, he was studying recreation management and tourism at Arizona State University. He decided to spend the summer in Steamboat to beat the Phoenix desert heat and get some work experience at a hotel. He loved the Steamboat lifestyle, came for a second summer, and then moved to Steamboat full-time after graduation.
After spending about 10 years in the local hotel industry, Bud decided it was time for a change. Seeing the balloon in the sky from time to time inspired his curiosity and he called Ian, the owner of the balloon company to see if there were any open positions. The next day Bud was an official member of the balloon ground crew.
After a couple exciting years of part time balloon chasing, Bud and Ian decided it was time for Bud to take his ballooning to the next level and start flying. Bud logged his first flying hours in 2011, and now has over 1,000 hours of flight experience above Steamboat.
He and his wife Stacia bought the business from Ian and Shelley on Jan. 1st, 2018. When Bud is not flying the balloon, he loves to play sand volleyball, mountain bike, camp, ski, and spend as much time as he can with his wife and daughter.
Owner | Marketing Director
Stacia grew up in Steamboat, getting to build snow sculptures for winter carnival and watching the balloon festival launch from the meadows during the 90s. After graduating from Colorado Christian University in Denver, she spent a few years in Seattle. But needing a good dose of sunshine and missing the allure of Steamboat, she moved back in 2005 and is happy to call this her forever home.
After working with the Orthopedic team in the operating room at Yampa Valley Medical Center as an Orthopedic Sales Consultant for 11 years, she made the decision to join the ballooning world once she and her husband, Bud bought the balloon business.
Stacia is the marketing guru for the business, and is learning the art of ballooning photography. She and Bud were happy to announce the birth of their daughter, Emma in September of 2018 and their second daughter, Joey in January of 2022.
Like Bud, she loves to play sand volleyball, mountain bike and camp, but prefers snowboarding over skiing. She also loves yoga and spends as much time as she can with Bud and the girls.
Kevin Carty – Crew Chief
“What people are saying about us”
Super fun. Pilot is incredible. Flew up then drifted north then dropped down to treetops to fly back to starting point. Crew was super friendly and explained how everything worked.... read more
February 10, 2023ChipKG1581DL
Great Morning - Great views, great pilot and crew. Very professional. Great Landing - don’t worry, just go. Highly recommend!
February 10, 2023marksS8782TL
This was a great experience for me and my daughter. It was the perfect down-day event while on a break from skiing at Steamboat. Bud is as good... read more
February 9, 2023