About the GPBC - Who we are, how we got started, and what we do...

The Topeka Balloon Club was formed by pilots C.R. "Chuck" Tantillo, Chuck Klein after the First Annual Great Plains Huff 'n Puff Balloon Rally held in downtown Topeka on Father's Day weekend in 1976.

At that time the rally consisted 18 balloons from Kansas and Missouri. The Chucks, at that time were among only a handful of balloon pilots in the Topeka area but they soon increased their numbers and local interest in the sport grew rapidly over the next several years with the club referring to itself as "The International Association for the Advancement of Hot Air Ballooning in Kansas".  Late in 1978 the club changed it's name to The Great Plains Balloon Club and has since stuck to it's roots by promoting ballooning in Northeast Kansas earning the distinction of being one of the longest continually running balloon clubs in the country with several original members still playing active roles.  (Photos and stories from our early years can be found here)

The Club's main task each year is organizing one of Topeka's favorite and longest running free to the public annual events, the Huff 'n Puff.  We also have monthly activities and meetings discussing the current issues at hand and catching up with other members that we may not have seen in a while, especially when the Kansas weather has been uncooperative for ballooning.  We are a close knit group that has produced many life long friendships and we are always looking for adventurous souls who would like to join in on the fun.

Continue reading below to learn about some of the events and activities that the GPBC members are involved with and consider becoming a part of the GPBC yourself.

Ballooning is an activity that can be enjoyed by young and old alike, and there are tasks and activities that suit those in all age groups.

In the early days of ballooning it was an activity for royalty and the rich, but today it is enjoyed by people from all walks of life.

If you have questions about ballooning, or would like to get involved yourself please send us an email and we would be happy to include you in our future activities.


Above are photos from some of our more popular annual meetings, the first being our April Fool's Day meeting on Burnett's Mound as viewed from a balloon flying overhead.  The April 1st Meeting tradition began in the early 1980's when local pilot Paul Costello contacted all of the GPBC members to assist him with a flight that he was planning from the mound that evening.  The turnout was good, with one notable exception, Mr. Costello.  He stayed home, unsure if anyone had actually shown up until he started getting the phone calls from people wondering where he was.  He had pulled a prank that turned into an annual event where in addition to holding our monthly meeting we spend the evening tailgating and sharing food, beverages, and stories with other members.  If Mother Nature cooperates we also try to plan a flight that will take us over the meeting site.

The second picture shows our March meeting.  After we share a potluck meal and conclude our monthly meeting we enjoy several games of BINGO with prizes provided by the club.  It is always a shock to see how many people show up for some fierce BINGO competition!

Lastly, our December meeting is usually the highest attended meeting of the year.  We begin the festivities with a sunset balloon glow, our "Christmas Card to the City" and then gather at a shelter house for a meal that doesn't let anyone go home hungry.  After the meal we hold our monthly meeting, which includes a "changing of the guard", the transfer of leadership to the newly elected club officers, and then we hold a gift exchange that allows people to exchange their unopened gifts for those that are already "in play".

In addition to numerous flights throughout the year, GPBC members put on the annual Huff 'n Puff balloon rally.  After a late August "crew training" session that is open to the public,  thousands of spectators converge on Lake Shawnee's Tinman Circle the weekend after Labor Day to witness balloons from all across the mid-west take flight in the skies of Topeka.  It takes a lot of coordination and volunteers to make the event a success and the GPBC members continue pull it off year after year.  Past proceeds from the rally have benefited local charities such as The Children's Miracle Network and Friends of the Topeka Zoo, and currently go to help the Topeka Ronald McDonald House.  For more information please visit the Huff 'n Puff website.

GPBC members put on several demonstrations for schools and other entities, take part in local parades, and have the opportunity to participate in many other club events and activities.  The GPBC often helps out other local non-profit organizations and charities whenever it can by donating balloon rides for auctions, adopting a family during the holidays, and decorating a tree for the Festival of Trees.

Please consider accompanying us on our next adventure, and  Join the GPBC.

Balloon Rides