Andy's Life Aloft
Stories and Memories
Andy was full of life and always had a story to share.
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Thank you all so much for your wonderful messages! We're flooded with them and it will take us a couple of days to get everything uploaded, since we have to do it manually. Thank you for your patience!
There are no words to express how saddened we are of your passing. We’ll never forget our time with you crewing and later making balloons.
Every time we hear Montgomery Gentry’s song Lonely & Gone it will remind us of you singing it at that karaoke bar & sounding just like them. Every time we watch Wizard of Oz you’ll be in our heads singing like a munchkin with the help of helium! You always knew the best places to eat (Twin Peaks & Library being 2 of your favorites….I wonder why….LOL).
I’m sure you’re up there in heaven telling God you have a better plan on how the angels can fly via hot air balloons. Learned a lot from you about balloons. Your story of the Montgolfier brothers was always the best!!
Fourteen years of knowing you wasn’t enough time but we will cherish them.
Wasn’t sure what to say to ease your heart ache and really there probably is no words that would 100% but please find some comfort in knowing Andy knows you were right by his side & he knows you would move heaven and earth to do whatever you could to keep him safe from harm. That you did the best you could to help him. That he didn’t pass all alone. Andy was one of a kind & that was because you raised him to be that way. Head strong in knowing what he wanted to do in life & not let anyone or anything stop him from living his dream. Hope as time moves on it will ease your pain & know we are always here if you need anything.
Dennis & Tara
A Goodbye to my Brother Andy Richardson - adapted from his, and mine, all time favorite film, The Big Lebowski.
Andy was a good Balloonist, and a good man.
He was one of us.
He was a man who loved the outdoors...and ballooning, and as a pilot he explored the skies from Bloomington to Albuquerque and beyond, and up to... Pismo.
He lived unafraid, an example to the people of his generation. Andy filled his days with Adventure, Friends and Fun. He lived each day to the fullest and his relentless courage to chase his dreams was as inspiring and truly beautiful, as his boundless generosity to share it with the world.
Andy Richardson was a truly gifted artist. An unmatched artist of so many mediums, among them living well. my buddy Andy could make everyday shine with his brilliance and I loved the time I spent with him.
Andy's legendary achievements in Ballooning are staggering for such a young man. The Aircraft he designed and built with his hands, Those breathtakingly beautiful and complex orbs are flying works of art. Andy's Balloons will be a lasting and visible reminder of his impact on the world.
As the Balloons Andy built continue to bring so much Joy to communities across the world, I imagine it would please him greatly to think they will continue to safely carry people into the Sky to experience the wonder of floating on the wind.
Andy knew so much about so many things. He was remarkably Wise beyond his years, as a young prodigy he trained himself to pursue and master some of the most difficult and downright daunting human endeavors possible.
My friend Andy had many, many more talents. Far too many to list, but I will share a couple that were perhaps less notable, but no less impressive to me. For example, I doubt I will ever meet someone else who can author so many words through text messages while driving, or someone else capable of communicating so expertly with just a few memorized lines from his favorite movies.
Andy Richardson did so much with his time with us that his accomplishments are too long for me alone to list. However, One of those that I'd like to note is giving the ballooning world a mascot we could all Love, his best buddy Adam Dog. These last few years Andy's adventures were accomplished under the loving, protective watch of Adam who never wanted to leave Andy's side and who never quite accepted he wasn't a lap dog, even while Andy was driving. I will carry with me the cherished memories of Adam coiled up at Andy's side, of the Great Adam the Dog who has shared his Great presence and generous saliva bounty with us all.
To close, We have lost our Andy far before his time, and our hearts are all deeply broken. Still, the privilege to have had our lives so enriched by this brilliant and kind man is a gift we carry with us.
I will be deeply, achingly grateful for the rest of my life for the time I got to spend with my Friend Andy, and for the generous gift he gave me to share in his incredible adventures. I wish you all peace, healing and many joyful adventures to come. And so would Andy. Andy, who loved Ballooning.
And so, Andrew Philip (with one L) Richardson, in accordance with what I think your dying wishes for The Dude might well have been, I commit to finally get my damn Pilots License, to do a J in your honor, to crush your enemies and love your friends and join the rest of the Adams Family as we try to carry on your legacy of Fearless Adventure, to fly so high and so well while nestled in the bosom of the sky, which you loved so well.
Good night, sweet prince.
- Greg Seely
Andy Richardson….How do we explain our devastation and heartbreak over losing our friend Andy? Some people knew Andy longer than we did and some not as long. Some may feel they knew him better than we did, and some not as well. Whatever your relationship with Andy was, for those who loved him, our memories are now precious and priceless.
Andy created and maintained personal and close relationships with more people than most knew. The vastly different people with whom he interacted proves that. He could be an expert for the FAA, a genius for balloon design and creation, a master for pilot training, a savior for the downtrodden, a shoulder for the sad, a drinking buddy for the party crowd, a business partner for the dreamer. His age never mattered because his brilliance brought respect as a peer, no matter what the age difference. And to all, he was a true friend who never turned anyone away, even to his own detriment.
Greg and Andy talked several times a week if not daily, not because of work or balloons or production, but about whatever mattered at that moment to either of them. And when he didn’t talk to Greg, he would text me “how’s Greggie,” especially over these last six weeks after Greg’s dad died unexpectedly. Our family is very small so we cherish our best friends like family and Andy was a best friend and brother in Greg’s life for the last four years.
I always said Andy was like Tom Sawyer convincing people how fun it is to paint a fence, sometimes while he sat back and watched. For whatever dumb reason, he had a way to draw people to him just because they wanted be part of his vision of making ballooning an affordable sport. He wanted ballooning to attract young people. And we bought into that dream as well. When I first met Andy, someone said “he’s the most lovable train wreck you’ll ever meet”, and boy were they right. And for some dumb reason, his real friends were drawn to him and passionate about keeping him and his dream moving on track.
And while we did a lot for Andy, he did a lot for us as well. I’ve called Andy at 1am when the bottom fell out of my world and he talked me back into having hope and believing. Thing didn’t seem quite as bad after talking to him. We’ve called with questions, dreams, good news and bad, and he always talked or called us back (except when he owed us money, lol, but he always came through). We’ve supported his ideas emotionally, financially, technically, and passionately. We’ve stood up for Andy when people tried to tear him down. We’ve given him input, helped him write tough text messages, gave him advice on handling difficult people, calmed him down and stirred him up. I love that Andy pushed Greg and me to take risks and step outside of our comfort zones. He taught us to trust our flying abilities as pilots and he made us better pilots. Andy was there when I became a pilot preparing me for my orals and my check ride with Beth and giving me the confidence I needed. I will remember all the time we spent in both of his Albuqueque shops as well as his Indiana shop. We met many he recruited into his army of supporters. We’ve watch people come and go in Andy’s life, but each one shared his passion and loved him while they were there.
I’ll miss his calls where he would get Greg excited to do some crazy building project in the hanger or come fly for a few weeks and he would convince me why it was a good idea for him to go. I knew he and Greg had a special relationship and spending that time together was important and worth my sacrifice. My most special memory will be when he and Adam stayed in our home last December and flew with seven other pilots in our small friends get together. That and in León were the only places I’ve seen Andy slow down and just relax and have fun for several day. He told the infamous ostrich at both places displaying his mastery storytelling skills. He made people laugh as he modeled his balloon pajamas. And of course he had to bend the winds and show Greg he could land in the driveway of our house.
The choices we make in life can change our path bringing people into our lives and sometimes taking them back out of our life altogether. What you hope is that somehow the impact they have on us also changes us. I know I am a better person because of the impact Andy had in our lives. I watched him model true friendship, compassion, non-confrontational determination, and a zest to push himself and others to new heights.
Last year while at the house sitting outside by the fire, Andy leaned over to Greg and said, “Hey Greggie, can we do this again next year?” That led to us creating an actual New Years rally this year that Andy was really looking forward to attending. During our event, Andy will be flying high with us as we fly a tribute flight to Andy honoring his friendship, the spirit of Adam’s Balloons and his push once again to encourage us to step out of our comfort zone and create an event for more people to enjoy.
Our hearts are broken, and though we will have wonderful memories we will alway cherish, we will forever miss having Andy in our daily lives saying “Greggie…..Whatcha doin’”
- Susan and Greg Lindsey
So many great times. Going to miss you more than words buddy! Fly high and keep any eye over us all. Till our paths cross again love ya!!
We loved Andy instantly. His easy going personality and dimpled smile. He was a true professional and skilled pilot. Kind and fun loving. So glad for the memories.
- Connie and Terry Zimmer
I spent hours sitting with you learning the sewing techniques you used to make balloons. Trying to figure your secrets to how you made balloons in my seemingly feeble attempt to try to find you people to complement your team. It is a skill that is extremely hard to master and I am in awe of the talent you had in creating the magical balloons that you have in your short lifetime. Your mirror balloon creation with all those LED lights was a fabulous sight to see, one that no other person could even imagine accomplishing.
Over the years we have known you from the time you made our first racer balloon to now, you have always pushed and encouraged us to be innovative. It was always challenging to work with you through new designs and ideas that would help to expand your business. I loved discussing new projects and working through problems and will always miss the excitement of working through new ideas with you.
Gary said it all, we have a huge hole in our lives, a huge hole in our hearts, now that you are gone from us. You always had a smile on your face, always had good words to say for everyone and always wanted to do something for everyone to encourage them into the ballooning world. You provided ways for everyone to share in your dreams and your love of flying.
I will miss the adventures that we made together and will miss the ones we had planned for the future. We always wanted you to come and fly with us in Umbria, and now we know you will never be with us physically, but we know that everywhere we fly in future you will be there in spirit with us.
My only hope is that we can live up to your dreams as well as our own and that we can continue your passion in ballooning as we continue ours. I will miss you, we will miss you, you have been like a brother to Gary and me and given us both such enjoyment in our ballooning. Be safe, until we meet again on the other side. With love and hugs, we miss you always and forever
- Rachel Barkworth
Condolences to Andy's family and friends from the Felty family. I met Andy in college 15+ years ago. Without his help, I'm not sure I would have been able to realize my dream of becoming a balloon pilot! I always enjoyed hearing about Andy's adventures and stories, he really was a fun guy to be around. Although we hadn't talked in the last few years, it was amazing to see the balloons he and his company were building.
I'll always be thankful for the time we had earlier in life.
- Paul Felty
I miss you my best friend…
Tres amigos inseparables
- Guto Marques
I was very saddened when I heard the news this week.
I will sorely miss my friend and our conversations together when I would visit Bloomington. We first met in Albuquerque several years ago when I was working for Cameron's US. We managed to work together on a few projects and was looking forward to many more.
RIP my friend I will miss our conversations
- Phil Whittlington
Andy, Andy, Andy.....what a trip getting to know you. When you first came to my house, I could tell you had a passion for our sport. What insight for a relatively young man. We talked about the market in Nashville and I told about one operator that sold a ton of Groupons and didn't fly many of them. He said there was a guy like that in Texas that was an accident waiting to happen.....it did. You built me/us some beautiful balloons.
My ex-girlfriend (new bride) designed our last three Adams Balloons, we have had more comments how beautiful they are. Whenever I heard about an accident/incident in ballooning, I would call Andy and he usually knew the details before I did.
Your passion to make ballooning great again was evident. Innovations, new models, special shapes and projects, airships and the re-birth of Solo System were amazing.
Will miss you buddy and hope someone will continue where you left off. "Let's Go Andy" ;-)
- Bob Grimes
Rest in peace buddy. I'll miss you.
- Mike Diekhoff
Andy Andy Andy. How ya doin bud? Tell me a story. About passion. Humor in every facet of day to day life. Certain conviction of paving life's path. Inspirational beyond compare.
Thanks for the opportunities, teaching and encouraging me to fly, and trusting us all with everything. Someone who can keep 2 whole businesses basically in his head.
I'll see you again brother. Thanks for the beautiful skies all week. Its gusty! I will forever miss your special birds in the ballooning origin story.
- A friend
I’ll never forget your friendship and this day of my first ride. I’m so sad we won’t get to have that cigar we talked about.
You decided to build an airship and suddenly there’s a pile of fabric and we are searching for airship patterns on the internet. Yet the airship was finished and it flew! I will miss our late night phone calls when you would tell me of your latest crazy idea, the production crisis of the day, or the most recent political injustice. I cheered your accomplishments and tried to comfort you in during your darkest times.
Andy, you were my mentor, friend, and brother. My life is so much richer through knowing you. Now I’m left with a hole in my life and a hole in my heart. Fly safe bud and I’ll see you on the other side.
- Gary McGuire
Andy, you packed in more adventures into your short life than a normal person could fit into two or three lifetimes. I feel privileged to have been included in just a few. Some were decidedly sketchy but I would do them all over again, if I had the chance. I only regret the adventures that we talked about but didn’t get to do.
Flying a balloon on Martha’s Vineyard with me on the beach to catch you before you flew out into the Atlantic….what could possibly go wrong? Well, I caught the balloon, it impressed the sponsors, and you got the contact for the mirror balloon. And what an awesome project by anyone’s standards. You could see beyond the challenges of a project to the end results and, once you decided to go for it, the results were spectacular.
Our memories of Andy are mostly from when he was a small boy, but they are still very vivid. It isn't often that you meet a 3 year old who tells you what he is going to be when he grows up and actually grows up to do just that thing, but that was Andy. His passion for balloons was evident even at a very early age. It is a wonderful thing that he was able to not only spend his life doing something that he loved, but excel at it. Ken and I are so saddened by his passing, but we will always smile at the memory of that little boy.
- Mary and Ken Spencer
As a teacher, there are just certain kids you connect with more than others. For me, that connection was with Andy. I will never forget the time at Tri-North when Andy dressed up like me for twin day during Spirit Week. He put some baby powder in his hair to make it look gray and wore a plaid shirt and khaki pants. It was so funny, but I felt so honored that he did that.
Then on another occasion, he and a few of his accomplices (Brady Small and Dan Rinckel, I believe) decided to decorate my room for my birthday. Being a die-hard Boilermaker in Bloomington, Indiana, they put IU stuff all over my classroom. They even taped stuff to my projector screen and rolled it back up so that when I rolled it down, there it was! Andy and I just talked and laughed about that this past summer when I was helping him crew one evening. I am truly heartbroken for the loss of Andy and I am so very sorry for the loss you are feeling. Andy was one-of-a-kind and I will miss him dearly. Please know that I am praying for you.
- Mark Eckerle
Andy Richardson. Kind. Giving. Creative. Supportive.
In 2015 I came to Andy with the idea of an ADA balloon and $3,333. Andy said yes and the Dream Catcher ADA balloon took flight. And with Andy’s help we have given over 3,000 rides to Veterans, people in wheelchairs, and those who needed a lift. Andy was my hero.
We talked of new projects to give more people with mobility challenges an opportunity to rise up in a hot air balloon. I’m saddened the bright light of Andy has moved on.
Thank you for being the angel on this earth. Your generous soul changed the lives of so many. Gone too soon. I will miss your enthusiasm and spirit. “Dreamer” Richardson Grasshopper 42,000 cf N526AR.
- Captain Crystal Stout
I had the most amazing blessing to spend the majority of the past 6 months working side by side this brilliant man! He thought me so much over the past several years. I loved picking his brain and peppering him with questions. I didn’t get enough time with him. I’m forever grateful for the impact he had on my life.
He was the greatest storyteller. Most of the stories began with, “Back in my heavy drinking days…”. He crammed so much life into his short 35 years. He rarely got mad and he rarely burned bridges. He was a self admitted people pleaser and we often talked how similar we were in that quality. He had a bad case of the DWIW….Do What I Wants. He would give me that funny, crooked smile and head off to do whatever it was that he thought was more important at the time. Both infuriating and admirable!
Andy had the largest library of useless movie quotes tucked away in his mind. It was fascinating. Our days were filled with inside jokes and one liners. I will miss being his “wingman” when he tried to flirt with ladies. I will always admire his zest for life and kind heart. I have the upmost respect and love for my friend.
Andy, You were truly one of a kind. You were a master story teller. You were in love with aviation like no one else I knew. You rooted for me when I didn’t think I could root for myself. I came to Bloomington to fly with you. We had plans to fly together. You said - you’re solo’ing, bye! Off I went. I was a NERVOUS wreck during my oral exam. You kept saying, calm down, you know this material - then would smile. We flew and I was one of my best flights ever. Looking back, I’m so happy I got to enjoy it with you. We went back and celebrated!
Thank you for having faith in me when I didn’t have faith in myself. I appreciate all you did to help with my ballooning career. Say hi to my dad for me! Soft landings my friend
There are no words to describe the feeling you have when you lose your best friend unexpectedly. Hundreds of flights, adventures, trips, and balloons, each more fun than the last. You made me love ballooning even more when I never thought it was possible. You made such an impact on the sport for world. Your laughter, jokes, and stories never ceased to amaze me - glad I could be a part of it. I will miss the magnitude of phone calls and texts! Looking forward to keeping your legacy alive.
Until we fly again...blue skies and soft landings.
- Brian Magee
Absolutely gutted to hear of the passing of my friend Andy Richardson yesterday. Andy was a true visionary and disruptor in the ballooning industry. He accomplished many lifetimes’ worth of goals in his brief 35 years. And although I probably have a few more grey hairs than I normally would at this point due to his influence, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Fly high, my friend. God bless.
- Day Hochman-Vigil
Two absolutely beautiful Adams Balloons. Thank you sooo much for everything you’ve taught me Andy Richardson.
You will forever fly with me in my beautiful balloons.
- Rachel Zimmer
Moments ago, I just finished flying Andy Richardson's balloon in Leon, MX. He was not able to come to Leon because he was fighting covid complications. He chose me to fly his 140 balloon. When I returned to the compound, I found out he had just died.
To all the people who hated him, I'm sorry you didn't get to know him. He loved flying and building balloons and never made a dime because he wanted everyone to be able to afford a balloon.
Today, I thought I may have to ditch his balloon at the zoo after the winds dies and I was on my last few puffs of heat. I prepared passengers and explained what was going to happen. At the last minute, the balloon turned right for no reason and pushed me 250 feet to safety. I know it was you, Andy. Thanks for pushing me over on your journey to balloon heaven, buddy.
I'm so sorry. I've lost my dad, my amazing Aunt and Andy in the last six weeks. I'm drained. Love all of you.
R.I.P. my friend, thank you for the fun times and memories, you'll be missed, this is Andy Richardson and I doing the required flight for the airworthiness certificate
- Gregory Garcia
So very shocked and saddened to hear that good friend and balloonist Andy Richardson has passed away suddenly today.
Andy always had a positive will do attitude helping us on many projects with logistics including Fly Every State arranging a camera balloon to fly alongside us giving us the only air to air shots during the entire tour.
Sending all of our thoughts prayers and strength to Andy’s friends and family RIP Andy, never seen you without a smile - we’ll miss you.
- Andrew Holly
Shocked and heartbroken to hear the news of the passing of Andy Richardson. Always so kind to our family. I’ve been on two hot air balloon rides in my life and they were both piloted by Andy.
Memories that will last forever. An incredibly talented, kind, and funny spirit gone far too soon.
Fly high darling.
- Jenn Cristy
So many emotions and stories running thru my head this evening ..
Andy meant a lot to a lot of people. He had a heart of gold and a mouth of stories. They say find a job you love- he did just that! Balloons and helping people. Well and being a DaneDad to Adam Puppers.
Andy grew my love of hot air balloons to great heights, but boy he knew how to push my buttons too.
He once asked me to help him be more ”organized and smarter” on the financial side when he was just starting out. I took about ten mins in his office and said you will never do what I think you should and he smiled with that big grin of his and big ole dimples and said yep!
He wouldn’t let me fly then bc I was pregnant but he knew my favorite part of chasing for him was watching the twinkle on his eye telling his story with champagne. So he popped a bottle just for him and our friends ( I was prego) but I got the Best part and it’s still on my shelf today 13+ years later.
- Tana Abel