Bill Harrop's Original Balloon Safaris - Unforgettable

By Willie Bodenstein


Established in 1981, Bill Harrop started South Africa's first fully licensed, domestic hot air balloon airline. Initially Bill and Mary Harrop did everything in the business, from reservations, marketing, flying, refuelling, cooking breakfasts over the burners wherever they landed, collecting and dropping guests off at hotels in Johannesburg and always being on the end of a phone call.

As the business grew, what started as a one balloon operation slowly grew and BHOBS now, 40 years later, have 6 balloons of which 3 are some of the largest in Africa.

Sadly, on the 26th of June 2021, Mary gained her angel wings and just eight days later, on the 4th of July, Bill too succumbed to Covid. Their loss has been truly devastating for friends, family and of course, Bill Harrop's team.

Although the void they left is massive, Bill Harrop's is so incredibly proud to have met Dale De Klerk who, as an avid aviator by heart, stepped in as the company's CEO. Filled with passion, dedication and commitment Dale, working alongside the exceptional Bill Harrop's team, is taking the company into its next chapter.

Bill and Mary always loved the team they worked with, be it pilots, the office team, right through to the breakfast and garden team, they encouraged, acknowledged and often shared how proud they were to have had the privilege of working with amazing people.

This has remained clear in the dedication and loyalty the entire team has shown over the last 6 months. BHOBS still have the same team in place who play a massive part in keeping the Bill Harrop legacy alive.

Sarah, Bill and Mary's daughter, was and still is the company's Sales and Marketing Manager, and although she too has relocated in Australia, is still very much involved in the marketing, as well as liaising and engaging with local and international tour operators and media.

Kathy Terblanche has been with the company for over 12 years and although her official title is “Reservations Manager” she is more than that. She was a close and trusted friend of Bill and Mary. Kathy is still involved with BHOBS.

Tracy Robb, who started flying many, many years ago, has been friends of the Harrop family for “as long as time.” Although she had flown on and off for the company over many years between her flying adventures around the globe, BHOBS are excited that she has officially stepped up as Chief Pilot.

Eric Ngobo, the crew chief, has been with the business since the early 2000's when he applied for a job. His cheerful smile, helpful disposition and willingness to learn has led him to remain a much-loved member of the team. He represented Bill Harrop's at Disney World's World Class Customer service program and still applies so much of what he learnt back then today.

On Saturday, when we were there to report on the BAFSA event, it was despite threatening weather, business as usual with enough clients to fill three of their massive balloons to capacity.

To be part of the Bill Harrop's experience go to:

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