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Sandy Journal

Hot air balloons take to the sky at Storm Mountain Park

Aug 29, 2018 01:44PM ● By Jana Klopsch

In the early morning the balloons take to the sky. (Michelynne McGuire/City Journals)

By Michelynne McGuire | [email protected]                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Sandy city's annual hot air balloon festival took place on August 11.

At dawn, the pilots made all their preparations to get everything just right for takeoff.

The weather was the most important factor for this activity, said Mearle Marsh, community events director for Sandy.

Marsh further explained some of the intricacies of hot air balloons, such as how it “can’t steer” and is “completely dependent upon air and air moves different at elevations,” he said. 

The licensing to become a pilot of a hot air balloon is nothing to shrug at either.

The requirements are rigorous, Marsh said, which includes abiding by all the licensure proceedings and all the requirements upheld by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

All of the pilots flying at the balloon festival are seasoned, having been flying hot air balloons for quite some time, and like when flying any air craft, must take all the necessary precautions for the flight before, during and after.

Marsh said the pilots are allowed to fly at the festival if they have had “years of experience,” he said.  

Marsh gave some amusing insight on the landing situations pertaining to urban areas.

Pilots and passengers can sometimes find themselves in tricky situations, from calling down from the air to someone in their backyard, asking if it is all right to land, or having to land in a cul-de-sac or, if they’re lucky, a field.

Watching hot air balloons is truly is a unique experience. “You will never know until you come,” said Marsh. 

This year’s takeoff location was Sandy’s Storm Mountain Park, easy to find by the streets lined with parked cars.

Before takeoff, the giant-size balloons are laid on the ground where they are fired up with hot air, making fire-blaring sounds. Then with a whoosh, quietly, delicately and almost unexpectedly, they rise into the air, a true art taking place.

Each hot air balloon sports a different sort of art on the “bag” or in technical terms “envelope” — the part that looks like a balloon. 

The first balloon to lift into the air at dawn was the trail blazer, the one with our American flag on it, gauging the weather and safety up in the air, giving the go-ahead for the others to safely follow suit.

One such balloon was the giant strawberry hot air balloon, another with blue and purple patterning, and so many other unique and charming balloons. 

A balloon with musical notes on it carried Sandy’s Mayor Kurt Bradburn, his wife and their skilled pilot.

All hot air balloons made a successful takeoff into the sky. It was a delight to watch them arise into the air and drift off into the distance, going wherever the wind blows them.