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 Shields-Trauger Award

Nominations due before June 30 of award year.

For 2020, Nominations are due before November 15.



The Shields-Trauger Award is a special award (the Balloon Federation of America highest honor) and therefore does not have to be awarded annually, however up to three (3) Shields-Trauger awards may be made in the same year. This award is not made to the same recipient in any three year period. BFA Shields-Trauger Award is for an active balloonist for special contribution to Aerostatics including:

  • Notable flight
  • Worthwhile contribution to science of aviation
  • Important contribution to ballooning safety
  • Exemplary service to BFA


The period of nomination is from the Annual General Meeting until June 30 of the award year.

  • Nominations for the Shields-Trauger Award are solicited from the general membership via a published notice on this website.
  • Nominations in any category may be sent to the Awards Chairperson. Nominations can be up to but not longer than two pages long.
  • Nominations must include: Name of nominee, address, years of experience in ballooning and reason why the candidate should receive the award.
  • The award is open to all BFA members: pilots, crew and others.



  • Members with nominations will send them, complete with supporting data, to the BFA Office.
  • The BFA Office will forward all nominations to the Awards Chair for distribution to the Awards Committee. At a Board Meeting July 28, 1994, the board recommended that the Awards Committee be made up of five past presidents and a nonvoting chair for screening of candidates for acceptability and to verify the data provided. This requirement will be placed in the board policy manual. It was moved that the board accept the Awards Committee's recommendations for the Shields-Trauger Award and amend same to add an additional recipient.
  • The final list will be sent to the President and Awards Liaison by June 30 .
  • The Awards Chairperson will work with the BFA Office to present the final list to the full board for the vote on the nominees either at the next board meeting or by mail or FAX.
  • The Awards committee will then prepare the awards according to the decision of the board.
  • The Shields-Trauger Award(s) will be presented during the BFA Annual General Membership Meeting.


HISTORY: The Men Behind the Award

Francis Shields and Bob Trauger both had their ballooning careers cut tragically short, Shields after just 14 years and Trauger after only 5. Both died in ballooning accidents in 1968 a mere three months apart.

Francis Shields of Green Ridge, Pennsylvania, was a gas balloonist who earned his license in 1954. He was an early member and would serve as president of the Balloon Club of America. His peers included Don Piccard, Tony Fairbanks, Peter Pellegrino and Constance Wolfe. With Pellegrino he would serve as technical advisor for the filming of the movie Around the World in Eighty Days. He logged more than 100 gas flights and was one of the most active American pilots in international competition.

One of his more memorable flights occurred on January 9, 1968 when he and Pellegrino piloted La Coquette (the balloon used in Around the World in Eighty Days) to celebrate the 175th anniversary of the first flight of Pierre Blanchard in America. A photo of the launch of that flight was the first cover photo ever for the new Balloon Federation of America's premier issue of BALLOONING JOURNAL in Spring 1968.

Shields and two passengers would die just a few months later on June 6, 1968. Launching on a flight in Vienna, Austria for the International Airmail Exhibition, Shield's balloon struck the 850 foot Danube Tower. At an altitude of about 500 feet, the envelope slipped from its severed net and fell back to the earth, taking the lives of Shields and two passengers. Those who knew him say he would have been a formidable leader in the then blossoming sport of hot air ballooning.

Bob Trauger died just three months later on September 18, 1968 when he and a passenger struck a power line. The accident occurred just after take-off on a promotional flight from Penndel, Pennsylvania. A balloonists for only a short five years, Trauger had made scores of ascensions and parachute drops in the famous Eddie Allen smoke balloon.

Trauger was also an accomplished stunt man and wing walker with pilot Rodney Jocelyn. The two flew aerobatics together largely in the northeastern U.S. Jocelyn would be elected to the International Aerobatic Hall of Fame in 1998. Sadly, Trauger's last moments were caught on film in a dramatic photograph that shows him jumping to his death from his burning balloon. Trauger was from Keller's Church, Pennsylvania.