Expect to see more than 30 hot air balloons, including two “special shapes,” take to the skies to celebrate the 36th Huff ‘n Puff Balloon Rally presented by the Great Plains Balloon Club. Some 15,000 people are expected to come watch the colorful hot air balloons launch, glow and experience the exciting sport of hot air ballooning. Special shape balloons, Jack –N-The Box sponsored by Tropical Waterscapes and “Cheshire Cat” sponsored by Flying High Balloon Services & JRS Designs, will be featured during this year’s rally.
“Get up-close and personal to bright, colorful hot air balloons at the Huff ‘n Puff Rally. Most hot air balloons are about seven stories high.” said Cyndi Menzel, GPBC President. “Special shape balloons, like Jack-N-The Box, are more than 10 stories tall, or the height of the State Office Building at 10th and Topeka.”
“It’s a good idea to come early for each event and bring your lawn chairs or blankets….and, of course, your camera,” she added.
The pilots attending are from across Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Iowa. She says spectators may be asked to participate by assisting with a balloon. “You may be asked to be ‘ballast’, “ Menzel said. “That means if a pilot or crew calls for ‘weight on’, please help out and lean on the basket so the pilot can make last minute adjustments before taking off.”
The Great Plains Balloon Club presents this free and family-friendly event each year. A portion of the proceeds will go to Topeka’s Ronald McDonald House.
The schedule of events includes four planned launches, Friday and Saturday evening illuminations, also known as glows, and tethered rides for spectators. Menzel asks those who are waiting for tether rides to be patient and understanding. Tether rides are very popular and not everyone will get a ride.
All events depend heavily upon favorable weather conditions. Winds must be no greater than 10 miles-per-hour for a safe launch and recovery. “Please be patient. Winds usually die down as the sun sets so event times will vary depending upon Mother Nature. A delay of 30 minutes can often mean the difference between flying or not,” Menzel said.
There are several ways to find out what is happening on the field. “Listen to 88.7 on your radio during the event, or check out our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter for updated information,“ she said.
Major sponsors for this year’s Huff ‘n Puff include Shawnee County Parks and Recreation, Cox Communications, Capitol Federal, Topeka Capital Journal/CJ Online, 13 WIBW/94.5 Country, Propane Central, Holiday Inn and the Tantillo Family Foundation.
2011 Huff ‘n Puff Schedule
Friday, September 9th:
6:00 p.m. Beginning of First flight launch window
7:30 p.m. Glow & Tether Rides: an event where balloons inflate and remain in place as the sun sets. Pilots create a “glow” effect as darkness sets by firing the balloon’s burners. Tethered balloon rides may be available for a $10 donation to Topeka’s Ronald McDonald house, weather permitting.
Saturday, September 10th:
7:00 a.m. Beginning of Second flight launch window
10:00 a.m. Safety Seminar for Pilots and Crew by Westar Energy
1:30 p.m. Children’s Balloon Discovery Workshop (4-6th graders: limit 30 – registration required)
6:00 p.m. Beginning of Third flight launch window
7:30 p.m. Glow & Tether Rides: an event where balloons inflate and remain in place as the sun sets. Pilots create a “glow” effect as darkness sets by firing the balloon’s burners. Tethered balloon rides may be available for a $10 donation to Topeka’s Ronald McDonald House, weather permitting.
Sunday, September 11th:
7:00 a.m. Beginning of Final flight launch window