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Passing of William "Bill' Chapel

It is with great sorrow we announce the passing of William "Bill" Chapel. Bill passed away February 20th 2017 after a long illness. Bill founded the Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon and piloted the balloon for many years. He shared the joy of ballooning with many while spreading the message for wildfire prevention. Besides being just a great guy, Bill was a true hero. His clear thinking, leadership & encouragement saved two very young boys from certain death, when the original Smokey balloon snagged on a radio tower, about 800 feet from the ground. As amazing as that Rescue was, it would be a disservice to his years of dedication and professionalism, to remember him just for this one event. He lived and breathed Smokey Bear for his entire adult life. We will all miss his smile & positive approach to life. The family has asked for no flowers but rather donations to the Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon. Please send your donations to:

Friends of Smokey Bear Balloon
8400 Menaul Blvd NE  #628A
Albuquerque, NM 87112


Welcome to the new home page of the Friends of the Smokey Bear Balloon. We hope you find our site interesting and educational. Each time the Smokey Bear Balloons become visible, a dream is realized -- the dream of a new and exciting way to deliver the message of preventing unwanted wildfires. Don't forget to join us on Facebook!

Going to Greater Heights to Prevent Wildfires

Whether it's at a balloon event, a county or state fair, or at one of hundreds of conservation-oriented forestry seminars given across America each year, the Smokey Bear Balloons are truly teachers. By 2003, this image of fire prevention was seen by an estimated 258 million people, appearing as a special shape in the sky, tethered in urban and rural parks, and on television.

Each time the Smokey Bear Balloon appears, it stimulates the imagination and curiosity of younger generations about Smokey Bear, which can lead to important and probing questions. Older generations familiar with Smokey Bear's history are challenged to answer these questions and are instantly reminded of wildfire lessons of the past. No matter where they are seen, the Smokey Bear Balloons have touched the hearts of every child and adult as evidenced by tears, cheers, and applause. The Smokey Bear Balloons are field-tested at every event, at every seminar, and at every given opportunity.

Upcoming Calendar Dates

Click on Event Calendar tab at top to see a whole month

Date: September 22, 2017 to September 24, 2017 - Rally/FPP*  - Montague Balloon Festival, Montague, CA
Date: October 7, 2017 to October 15, 2017 - Rally*  - Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, Albuquerque, NM
Date: October 7, 2017 - FPP*  - Ramona Airport Open House & Fly-in, Ramona, CA

* Indicates tentative event.