An Early Morning Hot Air Balloon Ride over Casper
Calling all aeronauts…tomorrow is Balloon Day! See the schedule of events HERE!!!
Today was Media Day. And so…
I arrived at the Murane Playing Fields of Casper College at 5:30 a.m.
Soon enough, hordes of hot air balloon enthusiasts made their way up the hill to watch as the pilots and volunteers began assembling the whimsical flying machines.
I was directed to one of six balloons aptly named “Humpty Dumpty.”
One of the event sponsors, Dr. Shelley Springer with Casper Children’s Center, cheerfully filled me in on the simple mechanics of aeronautics. In a nutshell, heat causes the balloon to rise, but as it cools the balloon comes down.
Springer shared that she took her first balloon ride in 2015. When the Casper balloon festival was stalled due to Covid, she chose to get involved.
“And that’s why Rich and I pulled together to do this. The kids love Humpty, too…”
The pilot for this crew was Rich Lawson who also happened to be the “baloonmeister”—the one in charge of all the pilots. Part of his job is also sending the pi-ball (a helium balloon) to test the wind on the launch field.
Most of the crew members were volunteers, a staggering amount. That, to me, was an astounding aspect of my hot air balloon experience. The wonderment and awe of ballooning garners a lot of helpful hands all on its own. It’s magical.
Once aloft I had a chance to talk to Rich about his wildest balloon experiences. He said he once tried to set a world record and made it six hours before running into fuel problems. He left from Bismark, North Dakota “on the coldest day they had that winter” (-32 °F).
Rich was a former military pilot and commercial pilot. He took his first hot air balloon ride in 1995 and it was love at first flight. He’s since ballooned all over the world. He said some of the most exotic places include Malaysia and Indonesia.
When the basket finally landed outside of a construction zone on the edge of town, we were met by lots of happy and awe-struck Casperites. The crew quickly packed the balloon up and we met back at the park to do a champagne ritual and hear the Balloonist Prayer.