Our Town CEO transforms into hot air balloon pilot

Published 06/11 2013 03:45PM

Updated 06/11 2013 06:33PM

PAXTON -- Dave Champion. Say that name in Our Town and people will know who you're talking about. He's not known for his career, but his hobby.

On the surface, Dave Champion appears to be the everyday businessman. He's the president and CEO of Eastern Illini Electric Cooperative and his day is packed with emails and meetings.

But what he does in his spare time, sets him apart from the rest. When he leaves work, Champion transforms into a hot air balloon pilot.

"It's a passion now. Not only because I enjoy the flight, but because it is so relaxing."

When he clocks out, you'll find him in the air.

"People in the community get to see our personal balloon flying. It's name is Starburst. They get to see it flying over Paxton pretty often," Champion said.

He's the only pilot in Paxton, making him a pretty busy man.

"Ever since I've started flying I've had a list of at least 40 - 50 people on that waiting list."

It makes for a hectic life, but it's given him some pretty unforgettable experiences. His most memorable; flying with a man with terminal cancer.

"Knowing what he had facing him. He was a man of great courage. He's since passed away, but it was a day that none of us will every forget."

Champion says it's more than a hobby. It's made him appreciate life. It's something his family has noticed.

"They said, 'ever since you started ballooning you're a much happier person. You're more focused on the family now,'" Champion said. "That passion has really just totally changed my life, and made me a better person."

If you'd like to be on Champion's list and experience what he does in the air, click here

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