Mark Sand graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a BS in biology in 1969. After serving in the U.S. Army for 2 years, he returned to school and earned an MS degree in oceanography from Florida State University in 1974. Mark stayed on at FSU for another year as a research associate. He then went to work for the U.S. Naval Oceanographic Office, at Stennis Space Center, MS, where he remained until he retired from federal service in September 2004. His last posting was as the staff oceanographer to Commander, Submarine Development Squadron 12, at the Submarine Base in Groton, CT. During his tenure with the Oceanographic Office Mark spent approximately 8 years at sea on numerous naval ships and aircraft, including survey vessels, surface warships, and submarines.
Mark was introduced to ballooning by a pilot friend. Mark is the embodiment of the phrase “Your first balloon ride is free. Your second ride will cost you $25,000.” Mark purchased his balloon, “Mystical Flyer”, a Head AX-8, in June 2003, and achieved his private certificate in Albuquerque, NM that July. Mark received his commercial certificate in September 2008. In addition to local flying, Mark has flown in Albuquerque, NM, Glens Falls, NY, Simpsonville/Anderson, SC, Poughkeepsie, NY, Kingston, RI, and Northhampton, MA. Mark is a member of AOPA, the BFA, and the Connecticut Lighter than Air Society, where he is currently president.