We have joined “The Boomers” group, an offshoot of the Escapees organization that supports RVers, for the Balloon Fiesta. Obviously, these folks are all around our age, so it is a very cohesive bunch. And they like to party! Happy hour every evening, dinners out, activities – a very fun group.
The Boomers regularly offer to be crew for balloonists, so the first day of the fiesta we found ourselves crewing for the Gary Michalek and his balloon “Oslive Vzducho”, which means “Asses Aloft” in Czech! The morning started with the raising of the American Flag and a “candle burn”.
We were part of the first wave of balloons to lift off, so we did not get to watch the big ascension of other balloons — we left to “chase” Gary and his balloon and assisted in the landing. Did you know that the envelope of the balloon weight 600+ pounds? It was interesting to learn how the balloon works, but too much of a rush and we didn’t get a chance to know Gary and his team very well.
We did have an excellent evening though, as we went to the “glow” where the balloons stay on the ground but inflate and then all turn their burners on at once. A fabulous display of color, and we could walk among them while it was happening. Very cool!
We were coaxed into helping Gary the next day as well, as Mark turned out to be an excellent chase car driver. It was a PERFECT day, winds about 4 miles an hour, sunny, just a bit cool, and we were a part of the second wave, which meant we got to see many balloons take off. The “Zebras” give the final “lift off” OK and attempt to keep the chaos to a minimum.
AND, Gary asked if I wanted to go up, and I said YES (well, first I said no, and then I said maybe, and then I said yes). FANTASTIC! I was scared but decided to just do it, and I’m so glad I did! My good friend Carol Herr took a video of us taking off, check it out!
We flew for 1 ½ hours, which is amazing because sometimes it’s a very short ride, depending on wind conditions. We landed in a guy’s front yard, turned out he was a former crew member of some famous pilot and was thrilled to have us! So I can check that off my bucket list (was it on my bucket list?). I’m just sorry Mark didn’t experience it as well.
We have had fun with friends Cindi and Roger Olson, Carol and John Herr, and new friends Ann and Bob Schumann. When we were volunteering at Casa Grande, we had talked with Ann and Bob, telling them about the site and offering suggestions on where they should go in Sedona. Turns out they are our next door neighbors here in this the field of 1100+ RV’s! We visited the balloon museum with them yesterday.
Our last day at the Fiesta, we did not go to the launch field — but the balloons came to us. Many, many flew right over our trailer (the Bighorn), and I thought one was going to land on our roof! Quite a few landed in the field next to where we were parked!
Pictures say it best – enjoy way too many photos of us and the balloons! (But it is down from the 850+ photos taken!) The sky filled with beautiful balloons is truly an amazing sight!