Despite dreary and rainy weather on Friday morning, passengers at the Frederick In Flight Hot Air Balloon Festival were greeted by a vibrant golden sunrise and all 36 balloons took off without a hitch.
Meanwhile, hot air balloon pilots had only two rules for sky enthusiasts: have fun and be safe.
“All aboard going ashore”, Cartoon balloons Veteran pilot Tom Steinbock announced to the riders the loading into balloons called Terry the Mouse and Tomcat. “I have two rules when I get in my balloon basket: have fun and if it seems important it probably is, then don’t touch it and be careful. “
Steinbock, who has been flying a hot air balloon since the age of 7, said he learned from his father and loved when his wife co-piloted with him.
“There is no feeling greater than when you are in the sky,” said the Kentucky native. “The best part of flying – besides the cartoon balloons themselves – is the people I meet and watch them have fun.” His favorite balloon to fly is Sylvester.
“Suffering from Succotash, that cat, he just makes me crack and see the smiles on children’s faces when everything is airy and lights up, it’s gold,” Steinbock added.
Friends Jeremy Courdin and John Miller, both 24, said they were excited and nervous to board a hot air balloon as novice passengers awaiting the pilot‘s briefing.
“I think I’m more excited than nervous because there’s this fear of flying, but we’ve mentally prepared for that and I think we’re going to have a good time,” Miller said just before stepping into the basket. from Nelson, the Loch. Monster of Ness.
“Give it a try, go on an adventure because you never know what fun you’re missing out on,” Courdin said. Friends, who have skydived and soared 14,000-foot peaks, said Miller won a raffle for tickets to his work in the St. Vrain Sanitation District.
“The rules of the sky and hot air balloons are simple, have fun,” said David Hettich, “Long Run” balloon pilot of Rocky Mountain Hot Air, LLC.
Hettich said he took runners who were afraid of heights and made them go wanting to go up, up and down again.
“It’s a very safe ride and it’s not at all like the feeling of falling or getting on an elevator,” Hettich said. “It’s a very calm and serene, gentle ride and a lot of people have conquered their fears on a hot air balloon flight.”
Hettich and his longtime pilot friend, RE / MAX balloon pilot Ken Tadolani, have flown to almost 18,000 feet – nearly 4,000 feet above the summit of Pikes Peak at 14,115 feet – all have two said, “It’s just amazing to have a bird’s eye view. of the world from this height.
“Honestly, the best part of flying a hot air balloon for us pilots is seeing the fun on the faces of the passengers,” said Tadolani.
Frederick In Flight Hot Air Balloon Festival Balloon master Michael Gianetti was happy that the festival got off to a good start.
“Friday’s take-offs went so well, other than a few last minute reassignments, that it gives me hope that the rest of the balloon festival will be as wonderful – but we’re keeping our eyes on the sky for Saturday’s launches because that the chance of rain is higher, ”he said.
“Of the 36 pilots launched on Friday, only 12 were from Colorado,” Gianetti said. “We really have amazing riders from all over the country from Florida to Kentucky – and of course we have our favorites of festival goers from Arizona, Kansas, Wyoming and Mexico.”
Gianetti, who has been in a hot air balloon more than 3,000 times, said his favorite part of horseback riding “is the dazzling beauty of our city, our state and you can’t get a better view of the Rocky Mountains than to sit in a balloon “.
Lisa Gianetti, Frederick In Flight Hot Air Balloon Festival Safety Officer, Lisa Gianetti, Michael’s wife, said: “Every launch went smoothly, every landing was executed flawlessly and everyone involved. are having fun – and that’s really what we want to see ”. She also said she expects the Saturday and Sunday launches to go just as well.
Miller and Courdin stepped out of the Loch Ness Monster’s basket with smiles extending from ear to ear.
“It was amazing, like you’ve never done this before or afraid of heights, you don’t have to,” Miller said.
“I will definitely do it again, there was no reason to be nervous and I enjoyed it,” Courdin said. “I wish we had more time in the ball – it was a worthwhile experience.”