Just as the sun comes up on a cool August morning, a group of pilots, passengers, and crew members wait anxiously to see whether or not they can launch hot air balloons from this location.
“We call ballooning the hurry up and wait sport,” said pilot Janet Power.
Of course that all depends on the wind. It’s the release of a pi ball (or pilot’s balloon) that gives the balloon meister a better idea.
“We gotta know where the wind is going and the only way you can do that from the ground is put up a bi ball and watch it,” said balloon meister Milt Smith.
If the winds are too strong – it’s a no go. If the winds are calm – thumbs up. Direction also matters for where they’ll land. Once the pilots get the okay, it’s time to rally their crew and get set up.
“Unpack your equipment out of the trailer, hook it all up and start the inflation fan, fill the balloon with cold air,” said Power.
Once the balloon is nice and round that’s when you can turn the burners on. It may be a bit of a process – but the second that balloon leaves the ground – it’s worth every step.
“It’s exhilarating. It’s so peaceful, just beautiful..and the only noise you hear is when you turn the burners on,” said Power.
“Just awesome to see them put the air in and take off from the ground and to see eleven at one time is really great,” said Margaret Pelkey.
As these balloons slowly float through the sky – their crews are chasing them, ready to help them when it’s time to land.
“We’ll be there to help take the balloon down, fold it all up, put it away, to start again tonight,” said crew member Cam Hayward.
So whether you’re in the air- on the ground – or on wheels chasing the balloon – it’s a magical experience that’ll be almost impossible to forget.