What it was like being the only Black man to be a professional hot air balloon pilot

Hot air ballooning is a sport — there are races and festivals dedicated to it. The competition has remained mostly white in its 200-plus year history. However, Bill Costen is the world’s first African American hot air balloon master pilot. His career and life are the subject of a new documentary directed by his daughter Chantal Potter. The film is called “Balloon Man.”

Bill and Lynda Costen pose in the basket with their 1-year old son Jarrell. Photo courtesy of “Balloon Man” film.



  • Chantal Potter - director of “Balloon Man” and daughter of Bill Costen