WOW what a weekend

I was fortunate to have connections with a hot air balloon crew and believe it or not we held a balloon festival this weekend in western Kansas as part of an annual event called the tumbleweed festival. For those who don't know tumbleweeds get their name in the literal sense as the wind causes them to tumble away.

Got up early on Saturday and Sunday and participated as a member of a hot air balloon crew on both days. My SO got to go for a ten-mile ride on Saturday but I was not as lucky, oh well, there is always next year. What a thrill it was to be a part of the crew and assist in the process, my first experience with hot air balloons. Being part of the set up crew, chase crew and pack up crew was an experience that I want to relive right now. I’ll have to wait for next year or move somewhere else, decisions decisions.


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  • Sounds like a 'rush.' I work on the crew of a skipjack in the Chesapeake Bay - know how it feels. Glad you go to work with the hot air balloon crew. It's a blast, isn't it!
  • Sam, I can’t begin to describe how I felt being a part of the crew. Wow what a great experience. I loved every aspect of the event on both days even though I didn’t get to ride in the gondola. I was amazed at the amount of work it takes to accomplish a hot air balloon flight. If I were wealthy I would spend the 40 grand it takes to purchase one and take the lessons needed to become a licensed pilot. Isn’t that something, only participated two days and I’m hooked!
  • It is so exciting. ONe of our major fund raising events has to do with the Great Reno Balloon Race's. They are Sept 9 - 12, with about 125 balloons involved. Luckily, our deck overlooks the Park where the whole thing happens. We have champaigne and strawberries, plus a bunch of other goodies at the Butt-crack of dawn, which is when most of the race starts. They have two "hare" that the other "hounds" chase. The first hare leaves a couple of minues ahead of the pack and the second leaves during the middle of the race. The Hares go up and down, catching different air currents and eventually descend to place a big white X on the ground. Then the hounds all try to drop a bean bag the closest to the X. The winner gets a pretty good prize, like a car or a vacation trip, etc.

    We also have community balloons that take flight all over the community and try to hit an X in the middle of the park with their bean bags. They also place a flag on top of a pole and if anyone can grab the flag - another big prize.

    Being in the middle of the balloons for the Mass Assent is a thrill you will remember for a long time.

    Our race is a tiny one compared to the one in Albuqurque NM. Over 500 balloons and world famous. I highly recommend it for anyone that has never done it - a great time.
  • [font size="1" color="#FF0000"]LAST EDITED ON 08-31-04 AT 05:28PM (CST)[/font][br][br]marc, the balloon crew I was on this past weekend came from Albuqurque and they have participated in that event for several decades along with Reno, Las Vegas, etc.
  • Sounds like you hooked up with some real pros. Around here, they usually make you do ground crew and chase crew for a couple of years before you get in the basket, but there are those occasional opportunities to jump right in.

    I still love the sounds during the mass assent with all the burners on full out, and the balloons escaping gravity's grasp. The bright colors of the balloons are awesome.

  • My SO had the connection. The pilot used to live here and you may recall Beef Empire Days from your time in western Kansas. There was a fesitval then but it was discontinued for various reasons. Anyway, 22 years ago she was a member of his crew and when we heard there was going to be a festival this year she contacted him and the rest is history. He had to borrow the balloon from a friend as his is out of commission and you know, that must be a hell of a friend to loan out a $42,000 item! I have a problem loaning a screwdriver to my own son!
  • My husband and I went on a hot air balloon ride about a month ago. Watching the crew set up the whole thing was fascinating. They let us walk into the balloon after they got it filled with cold air on the ground. They look even bigger from the inside!

    We went down so low over a lake we could talk to the boaters, then went up high so we could see what seemed like half the state. It was a fabulous experience, very serene. We would go again in a heartbeat.
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