CEO & Chief Pilot
Originally doing every job in the Company himself (marketing, sales, reservations, flying, repairs, maintenance, cooking, and managing the finances) this "jack of all trades" found it hard to admit that there were others who could do the various aspects of the job even better than he.
As the company grew he was amazed at his good fortune to find that he had recruited and built an amazing team of great people (one of whom was his wife Mary) who could meet the specialist demands of continual growth; growth which was not necessarily in turnover, but more in stature. The objective was never to be big, but rather to "focus on more satisfying business goals" such as being "the best at what we do" by "creating a stimulating place to work", "providing perfect customer service" and "making important contributions to our community". The problem now, he says, is that nearly everyone can do their jobs better than he!
Bill will admit to experience as an ocean yachtsman, singer, hotelier, portrait photographer, advertising executive, and a balloon pilot examiner. He has served on committees of Southern African Tourism and Safari Association, The Magalies Meander, the Balloon and Airship Federation of South Africa, and as the National President of Skal International (a worldwide body of travel and tourism management professionals). He is also a Top 100 Member of Travelbags. He firmly believes that attention to service excellence and a commitment to care for ones community will build a better nation, especially through education, and was a recognised platinum benefactor of the Tourism Education Trust.
Currently Bill serves on the National Steering Committee for Self Regulation and Accreditation in the South African Adventure Tourism Industry as Chairman of the International Best Practice Sub Committee (an initiative driven by the Ministry of Tourism, the National Department of Tourism and the Southern African Tourism Services Association in conjunction with SA Tourism and other major industry players).
He also serves the tourism community on the National Executive Council of SATSA as Treasurer, and as a committee member as PR and Membership Secretary for the local Gauteng Chapter.
It is not good enough, he says, to be first, if the gap between you and the rest of the pack is too small to perceive, unless of course you have lapped them already! But more importantly it is not who you leave behind, but what you leave behind that really counts.
Started (officially) 1990
Behind every successful man is a great woman, but Mary is not only behind Bill but at his side and often way out in front.
A real mover and shaker, affectionately known as "Sarge" if something needs to be done, Mary is "onto it" (and so will everyone else be) until it is completed.
Mary is "everywhere". Not quite as diplomatic as Bill, she is very direct and doesn't take any nonsense from anyone, NO ONE, and that is another good reason why things work around here.
She is also a member of Travel Bags (International Association of Women's Travel) and accompanies Bill to SATSA and Skal meetings locally and worldwide. She loves to travel (most times with Bill) but sometimes is lucky enough to get away on her own to visit family in UK and Australia.
Started (officially) 1998
Daughter of Bill and Mary she started as a toddler “helping mummy and daddy” but became fully involved after completing her studies.
She qualified in the dramatic arts as a Licentiate in drama through Trinity College of London as well as singing and dancing through the Royal College of London.
In the tourism industry she has contributed with her services as Vice President of Travelbags for a number of years.
Her travels have taken her to just about every country in North and South America as well as UK, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Mauritius, Mozambique, Zanzibar, Australia, Thailand, Seychelles, Swaziland, Singapore, Dubai, Bermuda and most of South Africa.
She is currently pursuing her passion of being a professional speaker in her “spare time” so keeps busy with various MC-ing gigs as well as sharing her passion on Customer Service
She shares a great family with her husband Leonard and 3 girls (with a fourth baby on the way!)
She dances, is an avid Toastmaster and is studying graphology. She loves gym and swimming!
General Manager, Operations
Started April 2010
Having held positions as General Manager of a number of leading five star hotels in Gauteng he is fully aware of the demands of modern day hospitality. He is a forthright individual and is the calibre of person who creates initiative, sets standards and dutifully leads the way with a "Hands On" approach.
Over the years, he has been a very active member of FEDHASA, and was the Chairman of NHASA (National Hotel Association of South Africa), prior to which he was a committee member for a number of years.
He was a committee member and Vice Chairman of SATSA (Southern African Tourism Services Association) and during this time, initiated and spearheaded the "Youth for Tourism" Project for previously disadvantaged tourism students and received an award for his contribution to the SA Tourism industry.
He has been a member of GIT (Gentlemen in Travel) and is a Top 100 Member of TRAVELBAGS.
He also served on the board of SAACI (South African Association of Conference Industries).
Apart from his work commitments, Dave enjoys rugby (having played Provincial Rugby many years ago and is a fanatical Sharks supporter) and was a keen cricketer, playing for Natal Midlands. He is a Master Diver, and enjoys various boating activities. He is a keen golfer and plays when time permits.
Other outdoor activities include camping, motorcycling and fishing.
Dave has a passion for flying having started his PPL while still living in Margate, Kwa-Zulu Natal. Unfortunately, moving to Jhb in 1995, the Hotel industry did not allow him to finish this off. However, having joined Bill Harrops "Original" Balloon Safaris, Dave will endeavour to acquire his Balloon Pilots licence.
Started November 2008
Kathy left Vaal Technicon with her National Diploma in Public Relations and entered the hospitality industry in 1990, working at the Indaba Hotel as Assistant Front Office Manager as well as spending 4 years in Banqueting and Conventions, before moving to the Balalaika Protea Hotel. She later enjoyed time as Reservations Manager at Makalali Private Game Reserve before joining Conservation Corporation Africa as a Reservations Consultant for East Africa.
The main reason she works in the travel industry is because she simply loves travel, and has vacationed in Israel, Cyprus, Greece, UK, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Holland and East Africa,
At home she is the ultimate Children's Hockey Mum, Netball Mum and Athletics Mum (yup she has 2 kids) but for real relaxation she makes Mosaics and when she has the chance, reading autobiographies. Her husband, Fourie, is also a jolly good fellow and occasionally helps us out with crewing on busy weekends as he enjoys the shift in paradigm from his "proper job" with Toyota.
Started November 2013
With a keen interest in the Travel Industry Kelly completed her Diploma in Travel and Tourism in 2011 through Damelin. She applied for a job with Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris through a recruitment agent and as soon as we interviewed her knew she would be the perfect candidate!
An amicable young lady who is always keen to “be involved” and who quietly gets on with the job at hand is an absolute pleasure to have on the team.
She used to play golf, and has also studied Music and Singing through the Vocal Campus of Performing Arts in Kensington.
She has travelled within South Africa as well as London.
In her spare time she loves shopping, chilling with her mom and spending time with the love of her life – her puppy!
Kelly loves what she does and when asked what she likes about her work she simply said “I never envisioned my journey would lead me to making people’s dreams become a reality.”
Started in September 2012
Kyle studied a Diploma in Business Management through UNISA before starting in the Travel Industry. His first position was with Holiday Tours where he worked in the accounts department. Deciding to try something completely different he left the industry and dabbled in selling and trading carbon credits as an investment with Advanced Global Trading. The travel industry beckoned him once again and it was in September 2012 that he joined the team at Bill Harrop’s “Original” Balloon Safaris.
Kyle has had the opportunity of travelling the UK visiting Manchester and London, he has skied the slopes of Norway and Sweden and has visited Dubai as well!
A fitness and soccer fanatic – he participates in Soccer 6 (Randburg being his home club) and gyms regularly. His favourite team is Arsenal!
Kyle is always cool, calm and collected – which are “must have attributes” considering he is the only gentleman in an open plan office with several ladies!
Started January 2014
Tamara is a bright, sparkling young lady who is passionate about dancing, arts, crafts, baking, gardening and anything creative. She is constantly redecorating her home and loves making her home look beautiful!
She has a wide range of interests and has studied Make Overs through Laura Sher Images right through to writing her board exam as an Estate Agent.
In January 2014 she applied for a sales position at Bill Harrop’s – her contagious laugh and customer centric attitude was enough for her to employed on the spot starting the very next day!
Her travels have taken her to Austria (where her mom originally comes from), Australia, Mozambique, London and Germany.
She is married with 2 children and dreams of expanding her family to 4 or 5 children!
When asked what she likes about her work and life she said “Ballooning is an amazing adventure even for people like me who would normally be afraid of flying. I live for my family. I love my job and work environment.”
Started in October 2014
Having completed her studies at The Travel Learning Centre in 2014 Nancy applied for the job of junior marketing assistant and was placed right away!
With a passion for Travel and Tourism, teamed with her vibrant and fun personality she was the perfect fit for the position!
Nancy has travelled locally to Cape Town Limpopo, Durban, Port Elizabeth and North West – she has dreams of travelling further abroad in the next few years as well!
Apart from loving interacting with people, Nancy enjoys reading, travelling and listening to music!
Senior Pilot, Aircraft Maintenance Manager
Tracy started her piloting career and attained her licence as the youngest pilot in South Africa just a few days after her 17th birthday (if you calculate the number of years she has been flying and her declared age, the maths doesn't add up !!!). A tad reluctant to have her portrait emblazoned on the site, if you enlarge the picture by 800% you will see that she is the blonde one with her hand on the burner.
But to be serious, she has travelled to the UK to study and qualify for her Certificate in Aircraft Maintenance (hot air balloons) and manages the Company's Aircraft Maintenance Organisation.
Tracy has served as a committee member of the Balloon & Airship Federation of South Africa and also assisted as an officially approved flight instructor for a number of years.
After leaving us for a two year stint flying passengers in the Serengeti she (thankfully) returned with many a great tale to tell.
With over 3500 hours balloon flying experience and 2000hours hours fixed wing (real aeroplanes) flying to her name, a balloon altitude record, representing South Africa internationally in fiesta as well as competition flying in Europe, Luxemburg, the USA and East Africa, it is clear to see that ballooning is her major passion.
Started September 2012
Born in Australia, Melbourne Brad is our “import”! He testifies that it is his South African born partner, Claire, who really managed to do the convincing – either way – we’re delighted!
He was initially involved in tourism in Australia where he ran outback Safaris. He decided to spread his wings, he packed his bags and back packed around the world. Landing on UK shores he started working as retrieve crew for a balloon operator where he fell in love with flying. He figured that by getting his licence he was able to work, travel, make money and have fun!
He has flown hot air balloons in Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Portugal, England, Italy, Austria, Australia, New Zealand, France and India. He ran his own hot air ballooning operation in Scotland but eventually got tired of snow and cold and eventually in September 2012 decided that South Africa was “next on his list”!
With over 1300 Hours of commercial flying Brad has also done various Factory Maintenance Courses through Lindstrand and Cameron.
He has 3 grown up children who are spread between Australia and England.
If Brad is not flying you are likely to find him camping, preparing to camp or fixing something somewhere!
In his spare time he likes to relax and watch TV.
Senior Balloon Crewman
Started September 1993
After leaving school Eric 's first job was selling and auctioning motor cars in Zimbabwe, and he did his fair share of casual work before his quest for a "proper job" brought him to our gate.
This man's honest big smile, strong character and application of his great determination to progress has continually delivered well deserved results. Maybe the motivation to learn came from his mother, a teacher? But because of the great example he continually upheld, he was selected as one of two people from our middle management team to travel to Florida USA to study and be awarded the renowned Walt Disney Customer Service Course Diploma. He is also training to be a balloon pilot.
Eric 's travels have taken him to the USA, Botswana, Mozambique, Lesotho, and of course Zimbabwe.
When he is not following his passion for ballooning he relaxes with books, or goes to the movies. To keep fit and strong he gyms nearly every day, and plays Soccer with friends. Orlando Pirates is his favourite local team, and on the international front he supports Barcelona and Manchester United.
Started July 2004(officially) but was a member of "Junior Club" since the age of 12.
Born in Pretoria his family later moved to Broederstroom where his learning was conducted through the home-schooling programme to Standard 8.
Since joining the Company he has worked and studied diligently and with great commitment under the tutelage and supervision of our Senior AME and has proved himself to be a budding star balloon repairs and maintenance engineer. He has employed his great initiative to learn to fly by trading off his balloon R&M skills with Nik in exchange for practical training. His goal is to get sufficient experience to be able to fly as a commercial balloon pilot and travel to many different parts of the world.
He enjoys spending time with friends and going to the movies, but for the big adrenaline rush he rides a mean ZOOKA 160 off road motor bike. Japie will go a long way, and fast.
Waiter and Junior Chef de Partie
Started September 2010
George is one of those men who learns fast and will do well for himself. Show George how to do something and it will be done, always on time, always done right. Bright and perky, he is always complimented by guests for his top class service and attention to detail.
Junior Chef de Partie
Started September 2010
After graduating from high school she worked as a doctor's receptionist and, during that time, met and married George and started their family of 4 children.
Now her very realistic and achievable goal is to study to become a great cook.
In her spare time she buys, fixes-up and sells clothes; a lucrative hobby.
For relaxation Merjury reads Christian novels and enjoys watching E-TV.
Started May 1983
Everybody's favourite housekeeper, Liz always keeps our offices clean and tidy, and is everyone's favourite when it's time for tea. She reads womens magazines and conjures up some amazing "surprise" meals from what she gleans from the cookery sections. Never complaining, she is always there to help.
When she is not working she LOVES shopping for her wardrobe of very fashionable clothes. She also enjoys TV movies and baby-sitting her beautiful granddaughter. A regular churchgoer she attends meeting just about every Sunday. Elizabeth has a home in Hammanskraal where she returns for frequent visits and holidays where she relaxes with family and friends.
Started 1973 (with the Harrop family)
America has been with the Harrop family longer than any other staff member, maintaining the gardens of home and business as well as advising and training colleagues at the Skeerpoort operations base.
A self starter, highly motivated, reliable, diligent and gentle man with the "greenest fingers" in town, is a lay preacher and maybe it is with these qualifications and connections "above" that the hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful actually translates into the culmination of his work.
Maintenance supervisor and Crew Leader
Started January 2007
Daniel was initially employed on a temporary basis, his eager, friendly and “willing to please” attitude secured him a full time position in January 2007.
Working closely with our General Manager, Dave Atherstone, Daniel has become the “go to guy” – never a moan or complaint about anything! All of his colleagues refer to him as “the guy who will help anyone with anything at any time – a great guy!”