Hot Air Balloonists Visit Schools

The balloon, called No Worries, takes flight over Meadowlark Elementary School. (Photo by Pat Blair)

A bunch of hot air balloon enthusiasts visited Sheridan schools Friday to show youngsters what hot air ballooning is all about.

The event was a prelude to the second annual Hot Air Balloon Rally coming to the Big Horn Equestrian Center this weekend.

Event organizer Ginny Rieger, of Sheridan, said she doesn't know how many will be at the Equestrian Center Saturday and Sunday, but she was hoping for a good turnout.

Among the balloonists at the schools Friday was Debbi Waltman, who came up from Colorado to attend this year's event. Waltman said she's been piloting balloons for a little over 25 years. She said she hasn't flown in Sheridan before.

Waltman brought her balloon, No Worries, to Meadowlark Elementary School, but there were balloonists at every elementary school in Sheridan, according to Rieger.

The children came out and watched as the balloons were assembled, filled with air and, finally, took flight over the city. Waltman said the balloons go where the wind takes them, so once they're launched, where they go depends on the weather.

The rally at the Big Horn Equestrian Center is scheduled to start with a pilot briefing at 6:45 a.m., followed by the balloon launch at 7:30 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday. Also on Saturday is the balloon glow at 7 p.m.

View more photos below.

Members of the balloon team unload the basket under the watchful eyes of Debbi Waltman, right. (Photo by Pat Blair)
The crew of a second balloon check the flame. (Photo by Pat Blair)
A view of the basket's interior. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Waltman, at right, checks the lines that fasten the balloon to the basket. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Shot of the balloon being inflated. (Photo by Pat Blair)
Meadowlark students watch the preparations. (Photo by Pat Blair)
No Worries lifts off. (Photo by Pat Blair)