SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – Day one of the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic didn’t take off as expected, but pilots say part of the experience is sharing what they know about hot air balloons with other people.
About 25 hot air balloon pilots got their burners going saturday morning at the santa rosa fairgrounds, but there wasn’t a lift off. Because of the weather, the pilots weren’t able to fly, but pilots like Mike Kijak say it’s about sharing the experience with others, “It’s not like other events stand back behind the line…come on up and talk to us, that’s what’s fun about it.”
Dozens took the chance to go on a tethered balloon ride. While others got one-on-ones with pilots like Eileen Jones and learned what it takes to launch the giant balloons, “This is the joy right here is sharing it with a group this big.” Jones has been flying for 30 years. She says she can fly as high as any fixed-wing pilot.
And when she’s up soaring through the skies, it’s serene, “But then every now and then we have to do this, so it’s quite loud but otherwise it’s so quiet up there that as you flying along you can hear people talking, you can hear dogs barking, you can hear chickens and roosters crowing.”
Mateo Hernandez, another pilot, named his hot air balloon, El Gaio which means rooster in Spanish.It’s been his childhood dream to fly these balloons and he says he’s never scared…well almost never… “No, not at all…except right now when i’m moving….”
While Hernandez and the other pilots didn’t officially take off on Saturday, they hoped for another chance on Sunday. Unfortunately because of wet forecasts predicted for tomorrow, the event has had to cancel.