lots of hot air

no, I’m not talking about the latest mailing list discussion …

This morning my wife and I got the chance to go to The Great Reno Balloon Race. It’s the largest (over 100 balloons) free ballooning event in the US and we’ve had it here for 27 years. I’ve seen the balloons from a distance before but this year we were invited to help “crew” one of the balloons.

The day starts bright-and-early at 5:30am with five balloons going up at the same time in the dark in what’s called the Dawn Patrol. Seeing the balloons glow in the dark as they ascend was really cool.

The first ballon up is always the American Eagle and the national anthem is played as it gets underway.

American Eagle hot air balloon

American Eagle hot air balloon

We then had a missing-man-formation flyover from some WWII-era planes from the Reno Air Races that are going to start in a few days.

Next everybody started filling up the balloons and launching (they stagger the start times so that there isn’t too much traffic in the air).

Looking from the top as the balloon is being filled

Looking from the top as the balloon is being filled

The mass ascension starts

The mass ascension starts

It was really nice, sunny day with calm winds so the balloons stayed fairly close and we got some great shots from the ground.

Looking up at just a few of the balloons

Looking up at just a few of the balloons

Once the balloon we were crewing (called Daydreams) got off the ground, we packed up the truck and trailer and started chasing it. The breeze ended up blowing it a lot farther than we thought and we had to “walk” it a few hundred yards back to a parking lot where the air was slowly let out and we were able to pack the whole thing into maybe a 3 ft (1m) diameter bag.

In all we were there about 5 hrs (getting back to the car around 10 am) and it really was one of the most enjoyable events I’ve been to since we’ve been in Reno.

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