Planet Earth Balloon

About Us

Planet Earth Balloon
The Planet Earth Balloon is made up of 436 individual sewn cloth panels containing 100% digitally printed images of NASA's world famous "Blue Marble" photographs of Earth. Original photographs taken by the crew of Apollo 17 in 1972 from 28,000 miles above Earth inspired NASA scientists and data visualizers to later create the most detailed true-color images of the Earth's surface ever produced, which were a compilation of various satellite images.

In sharing these images, Discover Balloons hopes the public will join with NASA in its “continuing exploration of our world from the unique perspective of space.”

This Balloon also is designed to foster awareness and help celebrate NASA’s proud legacy in human spaceflight as the Space Shuttle program comes to its conclusion. On November 1, NASA is scheduled to launch the final flight of Space Shuttle Discovery. The final flight of Space Shuttle Endeavor, and the last flight of the program, is scheduled for February 2011.

Flight Crew
The experienced crew of the Planet Earth Balloon will transport the Balloon to your location for glows, flights and tethers.

Doug Grimes - Co-Owner/Pilot
Doug has been a hot air balloon pilot for more than 30 years. He began flying in 1979 and received his private balloon pilot certification in Albuquerque, New Mexico, shortly thereafter. Doug’s extensive ballooning career has taken him around the world. He has managed or been part of balloon ride operations in Durango, Colorado, the wine country in Northern California, Palm Springs and San Diego in Southern California and Phoenix, Arizona. Doug has participated in balloon festivals and competitions throughout the United States, including New Mexico, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, among many others. He also has flown several corporate balloons including the Playboy balloon and Richard Branson’s Virgin airplane balloon.

Doug has flown internationally during two Olympic games in Seoul, Korea, and Calgary, Canada. He has also participated in international ballooning competitions in Japan, Canada and Switzerland, and has flown over Tanzania’s Serengeti and Lake Tanganyika.. Although his ballooning career has taken him all over the world, Doug calls Albuquerque his home and operates Discover Balloons, which offers scenic hot air balloon rides in the beautiful Albuquerque area, showcasing the Sandia Mountains, the Rio Grande Valley and the surrounding high desert. Doug prides himself on his outstanding safety record in commercial hot air ballooning for the past 20 years, and continues to put safety first in his concern for passengers’ flight experiences.

Patty Lewis - Co-Owner/Crew Chief
Patty was first exposed to the world of hot air ballooning when working in the marketing department of an airline that had its own logo balloon. She and Doug met at a balloon festival in San Diego, California, where Patty was crewing and Doug was competing. They began traveling around the country attending balloon events and talked about creating a balloon gift item booth for those events. They formed Discover Balloons and opened their first booth at a balloon festival in 1988. Then, in 1992, Patty left the airline to devote her full-time efforts to the balloon circuit, driving more than 56,000 miles to attend almost 30 festivals.

In 1994, Patty and Doug helped establish a balloon gift catalog business that became the world’s largest collection of hot air balloon gift items. Then in 1995, they opened a permanent balloon gift store in Albuquerque, New Mexico, home to Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest ballooning event on earth, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.

Discover Balloons is one of Albuquerque's local, home-grown ballooning companies offering scenic balloon rides, decorative and promotional ballons, and the World's Largest Collection of Hot Air Balloon Gift Items at our balloon store in Old Town Albuquerque. Click the Discover Balloons tab to visit our website and online catalog, and our Facebook page at
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