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 is a recognised benefactor of the Tourism Education Trust.
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.
Operations and Admin Director
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 Mary (nepotism rules here!) she started as a toddler "helping mummy and daddy" but became fully involved after completing her studies and qualifying in the dramatic arts as a Licentiate Drama Trinity College London, Singing and Dance at the Royal College London.
Probably why she can sometimes be a drama queen of note, singing and dancing and generally ensuring things are done right, first time, and every time.
In the tourism industry she has contributed with her services as Alternate Vice President of Travel Bags (International Federation of Women's Travel Organisations) 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 and most of South Africa Mozambique.
She shares a great family with her Husband Leonard (featuring elsewhere on this page) and three girls. In her "spare" time she and Leonard teach Latin and ballroom dancing as well as study it in more advanced classes. She also runs one of S. Africa's most productive private blood banks in conjunction with the S.A. National Blood Service mainly supported by her many friends, students and colleagues in the tourism industry. A giver of note! Also swims and gyms.
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.
Group Financial & HR Manager
Started January 2009
An absolute financial wiz and able to make our accounts virtually talk. Ask a question, she rattles those keys, and there on your desk is the report some business owners only dreamed of, but never dared to ask! Speaking of which, she can patiently explain everything in a language that we less fortunate mortals are able to understand. The kind of lady who although a tad shy to say too much about her-self, is not the archtypical "accountant", even though she is certainly not shy to chase the occasional outstanding debtor!
Sporting a B.Com. Accounting, and MICB(SA)(Payroll) with a Certification in Advanced Tax - UNISA soon to be added to her reptoire and member of the Institute of Bookkeepers what else, one may ask, does she actually finds time for?
The Travel Industry Golf Club. She loves golf, golf, golf (in that order) and travelling "Everywhere!!!", England, most of Europe and the USA.
P.A. to CEO
Started January 2011
Studied at Intec College and qualified with Dipl. Hotel Management, Dipl. Professional Catering & Cookery, Dipl. Events Management . She will soon be starting part time studies in Accounting and Book-keeping. Maya has travelled "all over SA", Lesotho, Switzerland, Germany and honeymooned in Thailand. Her hobbies are photography, scrapbooking and painting, and she is the very proud Mummy of the cutest little girl.
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 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.
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.
Senior Balloon Crewman
Started September 1993
After leaving school Trymore'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.
Trymore'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 March 2009
Di speaks fluent English and Afrikaans as well as French and German. She became closely involved in the tourism industry when, as a young child she was always lending a helping hand to her parents who owned the famous Swiss Farm Excelsior, Franschhoek.
After leaving school (and a couple of years before that) she had racked up 6 years of doing "everything" in the hotel, from assisting with housekeeping, food and beverage, sales and marketing. She also spent time with Budget Rent A Car in Cape Town and Jo'burg.
Di has travelled to many countries, mostly in Europe, and has worked in Germany for a number of years teaching English and Au Pairing. Her hobbies are her interest in languages attending meetings of a German and French Language Group, Teaching Aqua Aerobics, reading and baking.
Freelance 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.
Senior Balloon Crewman & Aircraft Maintenance Trainee
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.
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. Born Hammanskraal she returns for frequent monthly visits and holidays where she relaxes with family and friends.