FRANKTON – There’s not much to hear, except the occasional blast of the burner. There is, however, lots to see. Colorful hot air balloons will dot the skies over Frankton next weekend.
“It’s just the excitement. You don’t see them that much,” said John Persinger. He and his brother, Kevin, are the organizers of the balloon activities of Frankton’s Heritage Days Festival, Sept. 20-22. “Something that big and all of a sudden it just floats away … It’s peaceful.”
Persinger said he expects about nine balloons at this year’s festival coming mostly from the central Indiana area.
Visitors will get to see the balloons and their inflation up close. Some may even get the opportunity to lend a hand, helping to set up the envelope of the balloon on the ground and prepare it to be fanned full of cold air. Once the cold inflation is complete, the burner comes into play to warm the air inside the envelope, and ultimately get it airborne.
Visitors can get tethered rides, rising 100 feet above the earth for $10, or snag a flight for $200. Flights usually range about 500 to 1,000 feet over the ground, following the contours of what’s underneath. The trip lasts about an hour, but plan to spend up to three hours being involved in the entire operation.
The balloons will have three competition flights. The point is to achieve accuracy in maneuvering the balloon to a particular location.
Saturday night’s balloon glow is a great time to stroll among the grounded, inflated glowing balloons and to meet the pilots.
Of course, Persinger reminds, “It’s all weather permitting.” If winds get above 10 miles per hour, balloons will likely be grounded.
Funds raised through hot air balloon activities will benefit AMBUCS, a nonprofit organization that works to create mobility and independence for people with disabilities. The Muncie chapter provides specially designed tricycles adapted for kids or adults who can use hand or foot operation, or a combination.
“A lot of these kids can’t ride bicycles. It helps them feel like a normal kid,” said Persinger, president of the local AMBUCs chapter. “It’s really heartwarming to watch these kids have a smile on their face and just take off. It’s just so amazing.”
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