The air is cool and crisp, with an ever so slight breeze. With the Rocky Mountains as a shimmering backdrop, the Colorado National Golf Course is alive. Not with golfers, but rather, Ballooning Enthusiasts. This weekend marks the annual 2015 Erie Balloon Festival. Three days of hot air balloons entertaining the community. The local golf course is filled with young children, parents and avid an older generation of balloon pilots. Where to start?
Photographers Love Ballooning
I meet a number of photographers while hanging around waiting for the big launch. The official start time for Friday is 6:15 am, but the trucks hauling the balloons are not even on the lauch field yet. So I mix and meet a wide variety of folks. There is the fellow with an amazing Mohawk. He usually photographs rock bands; perfect hair style for that. I meet amateurs and professionals. One person describes the balloons. She started out interested in photography and now six years later is on the cusp of acquiring her solo pilot’s lesson.
2015 Erie Balloon Festival humor: the first ride is free, after that it costs $35,000 (to buy all the gear and become a ballooning enthusiast).
9 News Onsite
I meet Jessica Alvarado in person. She is a mobile reporter for 9 News. I like her goals; someday she is going to have her own talk show. There is something empowering in the air, watching these massive yet majestic balloons take shape from simple heated area and soar into the sky. And everywhere I look, there are cameras, children and smiles. Really, if you have the opportunity be certain to visit the 2015 Erie Balloon Festival. I did a soundbite, did I make onto the air?
Fox And The Hare
I learn a lot of lingo talking to balloon people. The average hot air balloon holds 90,000 cubic feet of air. Some balloons are shaped more like a football, standing vertical. These narrower hot air balloons are considered ideal for racing. I’m confused because I thought the whole idea behind ballooning is to relax and enjoy the experience. Saturday’s event will feature a “Fox and the Hare” scenario. First one balloon ascends, then the others work to quickly catch up. Sounds easy enough, but just watching Friday’s launch, the craft seem to scatter, caught in this wind gust or that.
Big And Small
Little kids tumble about. “Mom, my shoes are wet” is a common refrain. The golf course still holds the morning’s dew. And bigger “kids” are on hand as well. There seem to be a large number of retirees enjoying the sport. Possibly its the price point. A used rig can cost $5,000. Something newer starts at $35,000. Some craft hold plenty of passengers. A few I spot are just a chair, no basket, hanging beneath the the fire sprouting gear and balloon. That is gutsy.
There is a method to launching successfully. Crew are talkative, and all share one trait: smart gloves to keep your hands warm and undamaged while handing the gear. There are ropes and 20 gallon propane tanks. Wicker baskets, trucks and trailers. CNGC has 30 launch sites set up for the 2015 Erie Balloon Festival. I ask several folks, will any balloons land together? Surprisingly, yes. Some will. The winds and weather conditions tend to send everyone to the same general areas.
2015 Erie Balloon Festival Photo Blog
Check out the 2016 event by following this link!