This page will be updated as the full impact of his life and legacy unfolds.
Andy’s great passion in life was hot air ballooning, and he spent nearly all his time as a young child nurturing an obsession with all things airborne.
When Andy was very small, he had a mylar Mickey Mouse balloon that he loved so much he couldn’t leave it at home during the day while he went to his Grandma’s. Sadly, his parents were not yet well versed in having to tie balloon strings to children’s wrists when outside, and the Mickey balloon was lost. For days afterwards, Andy recounted the story of how the Mickey balloon went “Up, up, up, up…...gone.”
When he was a little older his mom took him to a “hot air balloon meet and greet” where the Porter Paints balloon was being inflated. Andy was transfixed. The children were invited to watch the balloon inflate and deflate, including rolling on the deflated envelope. From that moment, he was totally hooked, much to the occasional despair of his family and the local pilots. From that point forward, Andy was obsessed with seeing, interacting with, and following hot air balloons and their pilots wherever they found them.
This meant that if a hot air balloon was up in the evenings, Andy would basically have a panic attack until someone agreed to get in a car and chase the balloon until it landed so Andy could help pack up and pepper the pilot with questions. If a hot air balloon wasn’t immediately visible but the weather was good, Andy would insist on “going to a high place” to see if we could see one. On days when balloons weren’t flying, Andy spent time carefully taping tiny paper and string baskets to helium balloons so they would float at eye level through the house (usually scaring unwary family members to death on their way to the bathroom in the middle of the night), inflating a bedsheet with a box fan and playing inside the “balloon”, or using an old hair dryer to inflate a Christmas tree bag on the stairs.
When Andy wasn’t thinking about balloons as a child, he was idolizing comedians like Red Skelton, Tim Conway, or Victor Borge - and endlessly quoting back lines from “Dorf on Golf” and Red Skelton comedy specials. He loved physical comedy, and used to practice ‘trick falls’ over and over in the house. But honestly, Andy was always thinking about balloons. He integrated himself into the local ballooning community, often whether they liked it or not through sheer bullheaded persistence.
With the help of his Uncle Bob, Andy bought his first hot air balloon when he was 14 years old, a single passenger experimental aircraft. This hot air balloon was so precious to him that he insisted on keeping the basket in the living room - we decorated it for the holidays.
Andy attended Bloomington High School North from 2001 to 2005. Andy never loved school, mostly because he was so single-mindedly focused on ballooning, but was always good at picking out the parts in school he thought might come in useful for his ballooning career. He was always the life of the party and the beating heart of whatever room he was in. His sister, Jen, was two years ahead of him in school, and still nearly 20 years later is recognized around town as “Andy’s sister.” Andy played saxophone and was in the marching band, until it interfered with ballooning. He was also a valued member of the North boys swim team, where he excelled.
After graduating, Andy enrolled in Vincennes University to study aviation. While in Vincennes, he got his fixed wing pilot’s license, and bought his first airplane, a Piper Colt.