Hundreds of sight-seers got an up close and personal tour of four huge balloons Saturday at the 7th Annual Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Weekend storms prohibited the pilots from launching their propane-fueled balloons into the sky. They battled heavy winds to keep their balloons up as families checked out each.
The updraft: Bad weather actually gave spectators more of an opportunity to learn about what it takes to fly.
Pilots Greg Miller (Endeavour), Karen Holt (Great Adventure), Lynne Bixler (Sublime), and Ken Myers (Re/Maxx) were happy to talk about their hobby.
Holt lives in Wooster and has been flying since 1999. Her favorite thing about it is sharing the experience with people.
“Seeing the joy in their faces is great,” she said.
She said the most common questions she gets ask how much weight the balloons can hold, how far she can fly, and how long she can stay in the air.
Bixler said she’s considered giving up ballooning because of the great amount of time and finance that goes into it.
Then each time she takes her craft out she’s reminded of why she loves it.
Before a balloon can fly it has to go through a detailed annual inspection that costs $500 and be insured with a $1,000 policy.
But like Holt, Bixler said meeting people and seeing their amazement keeps her in it.
Myers said ballooning quickly became an obsession for him after his wife went for a ride in Africa. The couple sold their car to buy a balloon and have been flying it for 32 years.
Myers said he’s never looked back and enjoys every trip he makes into the sky.
“Every flight is different,” he said.
Caitlyn Wasmundt may be reached at 440-647-3171 or on Twitter @LC_CaitW.