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Eye On Boise

Posts tagged: hot air balloons

Balloons over Boise…

After adverse weather conditions halted the balloon launches two days in a row, this morning’s mass balloon launch from Ann Morrison Park for the “Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic” was a sight to see. Dozens of brightly colored balloons rose from the park; some drifted directly over downtown, while others floated out to the west. Many completed their flights and then nestled right back into the park.

More than 40 hot air balloons are participating in the five-day event, with the “Nite Glow” and free concert in the park set for tonight from 6-9:30 p.m. That’s when a dozen balloons will inflate while still on the ground and light up as the music plays; the family-friendly event is free, and food beverage vendors will be available. The Big Wow Band will play.

Saturday morning’s balloon launch will include a competition, the Governor’s Cup for Aviation Excellence.  On Sunday, the event will try something new: A mass launch of 40-plus balloons all lifting up into the air at the same time, rather than gradually. It’s the first time such a “Great Launch” has been attempted at the event.

Balloon launches begin at about 7 a.m. each morning, and the public is welcome at the park to see; food and coffee vendors are available. The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic, produced by Peak Broadcasting and Lighter than Air America, is sponsored this year by Mattress Land, along with an array of others; it’s a Boise tradition that started as a centerpiece of the Boise River Festival, and continued after the festival’s run ended. There’s more info at Scott Spencer, balloon pilot and the event producer, says this year’s event marks “when the ballooning world returns to the Park to color our skies for the 22nd time.”

Balloon rally fills Boise skies with color

Here's a link to my full story at on this weekend's “Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic,” which is filling the skies over Idaho's capital city each morning with colorful hot-air balloons. The allure of hot-air ballooning: “It's calm and exhilarating and serene, all at the same time,” says hot-air balloon pilot Val Favicchio of Coeur d'Alene.

Balloon classic, from liftoff to landing…

Click here to watch an audio slide show of the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic, which is underway in Boise through Sunday; I rode along with Coeur d'Alene hot-air balloon pilot Val Favicchio yesterday, and this tells the tale. I'll also have a full story about the rally in tomorrow's Spokesman-Review.

Balloons fill the Boise skies

There are 30 hot-air ballons drifting in the skies above Boise today, as the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic continues; this shot just shows a fraction of them. The mass balloon launches continue each morning through Sunday. Tonight, the balloons will inflate on the ground and put on a show at Ann Morrison Park with a “Nite Glow” and free concert from 6-9:30 p.m.

Balloons over Boise…

Twenty-two hot-air balloons launched into the skies over Boise this morning, and 30 are expected to launch each morning tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday, as part of the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic. “It was 20 years ago this morning that 10 balloons lifted off in this park for the first Boise River Festival,” Scott Spencer, producer of the event, told the balloon pilots at their pilots' meeting early this morning. “There are five pilots in this room this morning that have actually been here for every single launch that we've done from this field.”

During the pilots' meeting, in a large tent at Ann Morrison Park, KTVB-TV weathercaster Larry Gebert shared detailed wind and weather information, including a spreadsheet projected on a screen showing 10 dials, each with various measures of wind speed and direction. Gebert, who's provided weather reports at all the launches in the past two decades, said it was developed by his brother who's an aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin; it shows readings taken every 15 seconds, and forecast good conditions for this morning's launch. “This is very similar stuff to what they use for missile launches,” Gebert said, adding to laughter, “There's one very brilliant member of our family, and he's not standing here in front of you today.”

Knowing those wind speeds at various elevations is key to how hot-air balloons navigate - they can move up or down to catch a stronger or lighter breeze. Spencer said, “Apparently it is rocket science.”

Spencer said that yesterday, 10 balloons landed at Boise schools, to the students' delight - five of them at South Junior High alone. Pilot Val Favicchio of Coeur d'Alene, who yesterday landed at Sacred Heart school, today set her balloon down in a dusty clearing next to some railroad tracks near Federal Way, after a brush with a big pine tree kept her from her first choice of a landing spot, a grassy field nearby free of powerlines. Favicchio, who's been ballooning for 18 years and is flying the “Spirit of Boise” balloon at this year's rally, said ballooning is unique: “It's calm and exhilarating and serene, all at the same time.”

The balloons are back…

The balloons are back - this week is the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic, in which dozens of colorful hot air balloons launch in the morning skies over Boise. About 30 are scheduled to participate; this photo from yesterday shows the first day's launch, which included less than half that number as balloon teams continued to arrive in Boise for the annual event. Long associated with the Boise River Festival, the scenic balloon rally continued after the demise of the festival in 2002, and returned last year after a three-year hiatus.

More balloons are scheduled to launch this morning from Ann Morrison Park in downtown Boise; they'll also launch around 7 a.m. on Saturday, and Sunday, with a “Nite Glow” and free concert in the park Friday from 6-9:30. Also planned are morning military aircraft flyovers, balloon flight competitions, and food and coffee vendors in the park for those who want an up-close look at the launch. Scott Spencer, the balloon classic producer, said yesterday's wind conditions meant a unique flight path to southeast Boise. “It's the first time in more than 10 years we've had the opportunity to fly in that direction,” he said.

More balloons over Boise…

I counted 24 hot-air balloons in the sky over Boise at once this morning, including one shaped like a rocket ship. Many drifted low and leisurely from their Ann Morrison Park launch over the city, roughly following the path of the Boise River and gliding on the light east wind, before eventually picking their landing spots and settling gently into the sea of trees. A few went high, their bright colors dimming to mere dots on the horizon.

Conditions were great this morning for the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic, and they’re predicted to be the same tomorrow, before a big change in the weather hits Sunday, with forecast highs of 69, down from the low 90s today and Saturday, and possible northwest wind gusts on Sunday morning up to 30 mph. Tomorrow’s looking great, though. The Balloon Classic tomorrow will include a pancake breakfast from 7 to 9 a.m. at the park; a balloon competition in addition to the morning launch; and a balloon “Night Glow” light show and concert in the park from 6-10 p.m.

Balloons over Boise…

Hot-air balloons filled the sky over Boise this morning, as they have in so many past years. At one point, I counted seventeen in the sky at once.

Launches are planned each morning through Sunday as part of the “Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic,” along with a “Night Glow” show and concert in Ann Morrison Park from 6 to 10 p.m. on Saturday.Organizers say close to 30 hot-air balloons are scheduled to participate.

Hot-air balloons to return to Boise skies

For the first time in several years, and eight years after the demise of the Boise River Festival, dozens of colorful hot air balloons will fill the sky over Boise the weekend after next, as part of the “Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.” The event, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of flight in Idaho, will be Sept. 2-5, and will include a “Night Glow” show and concert in Ann Morrison Park from 6 to 10 p.m. on the Saturday evening, Sept. 4th.  Close to 30 hot air balloons are scheduled to participate.

The event is being spearheaded by Peak Broadcasting, and backed by the Idaho Lottery, the state of Idaho, the city of Boise, the Federal Aviation Administration, Lighter Than Air America Inc., KTVB-TV and many others; click here for the full rundown. “This is a family-friendly community event at Ann Morrison Park and attendance is free to the public,” Peak Broadcasting said in a press release. The balloon classic will include 7:15 a.m. balloon launches each day, military aircraft flyovers, balloon flight competitions, and balloon aviation history displays. It’ll also include a candlelight vigil against child abuse in conjunction with the Night Glow concert event.

The mass balloon launches were the hallmark of the Boise River Festival, a huge multi-day festival that included a signature parade and big array of concerts and activities, but that ended after it ran into financial trouble. After the end of the festival in 2002, separate Boise balloon rallies were held each year from 2003 to 2006.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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