Colorfull balloons ascend into the air over Walden, Colo. | TheFencePost.com

Colorfull balloons ascend into the air over Walden, Colo.

Tony BruguiereThe rising sun is exposed behind one of the balloons during an early morning launch at the Sky's The Limit balloon rally in Walden, Colo.

Balloons do not engage in races, unless it is a race around the world or some other long distance. A festival suggests coordinated balloon events and vendors. Since the recent gathering of 14 balloons in Walden, Colo., was neither a race or a festival, what was it? The gathering of balloonists in the small town of Walden in the North Park area of Colorado is called a ‘rally.’

A rally is basically a get together of friends who fly their balloons, enjoy the fellowship of fellow balloon enthusiasts, and, in the case of Walden, share that enthusiasm with the whole town. “We have a great time,” said event coordinator Matt Shuler, “everyone is relaxed, we are going to recreate, we are going to do some fishing, we’re going to do some hiking, some sightseeing, and we’re going to do a lot of napping.”

Nine years ago Walden resident Matt Shuler, invited his friend and balloon pilot Mark Purdy of Eaton, Colo., to come up and fly his balloon in the great winds and wide open spaces of Walden and North Park. Purdy was so impressed that he and Shuler started the North Park The Sky’s The Limit balloon rally that year. The rally is still going strong and is something that the 600 residents of Walden look forward to every year.

A paid flight with a commercial balloon can be fairly expensive. Besides the pilot, who must have instructional flight training and be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a number of crew members to inflate and deflate the balloon, and operate chase vehicles are required. The balloon is considered an airframe by the FAA, and for the most part, the requirements are the same whether the balloon is flown commercially or just for fun.

Walden, known as the moose capital of Colorado, is a small community where the major industries are hay farming and ranching. Matt Shuler says, “Half the town is related to me and the other half is related to my wife,” so it is not hard to recruit sponsors and volunteer crew members. Most do it just for the fun and the chance of a balloon flight, but the sponsors do it for the community and the guaranteed flight.

The pilots really enjoy sharing their flights with crew members. “The whole town comes out for this rally and I’ve flown everybody from a very young girl to a 92-year-old woman, who was really excited at the experience. Pretty much everybody in town has flown.” said Robin Guinan of Colorado Springs and the pilot of “Marv’n the Martian.”

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Guinan received his pilot certificate in 2000 and three years later home-built the experimental aircraft, Marv’n the Martian in his garage. Balloons are referred to as ‘she,’ but the 100,000 cubic foot Marv’n is a ‘he.’ “The small town rallys are the most fun.” said Robin, “At a small town rally, you get this special group. This is why Walden is so special, especially to me, because I’ve been coming up here since it started. The friends that you see are like family members and that’s what makes this rally so special.”

Preparing the balloons for flight begins early in the morning on the Walden high school football field. Everything that you need to inflate and fly a balloon can be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. There are not a lot of parts to a hot air balloon. The envelope (inflatable part) of the balloon fits into a canvas bag and pretty much everything else fits into the basket.

Inflating the balloon is not complicated, but does take some skill on the part of the pilot. The envelope, which is made of nylon panels, is removed from the bag and laid out on the ground. The basket is laid on its side and attached to the envelope. The burner (one or two) is attached to the top frame of the basket and to the propane tanks, which sit in the corners of the basket.

A large fan is brought in to blow regular air into the envelope and give it some shape. At this point the balloons look like beached whales on the grass of the football field, and you start to realize just how big a 100,000 cubic foot balloon really is. Then the burner is started and the air inside the envelope is heated and expands, which provides lift to the balloon and begins to stand the balloon upright.

Once the balloon is upright, it does not take much more heat before it is “up, up, and away” on a flight that can last as long as an hour. Once aloft, the pilot has up and down control, but, other than that, the balloon goes where the wind goes. The pilot and chase car are in communication and the pilot wants to set the balloon down in an accessible spot and the chase car wants to be there when the balloon touches down.

If you would like to see a balloon rally, there are quite a few left in Colorado for 2011.

Contact Alan Luksik at (303) 699-6302 for more information. For complete information on balloon rallys in Colorado, please contact the Colorado Balloon Club at http://www.ColoradoBalloonClub.net.

Balloons do not engage in races, unless it is a race around the world or some other long distance. A festival suggests coordinated balloon events and vendors. Since the recent gathering of 14 balloons in Walden, Colo., was neither a race or a festival, what was it? The gathering of balloonists in the small town of Walden in the North Park area of Colorado is called a ‘rally.’

A rally is basically a get together of friends who fly their balloons, enjoy the fellowship of fellow balloon enthusiasts, and, in the case of Walden, share that enthusiasm with the whole town. “We have a great time,” said event coordinator Matt Shuler, “everyone is relaxed, we are going to recreate, we are going to do some fishing, we’re going to do some hiking, some sightseeing, and we’re going to do a lot of napping.”

Nine years ago Walden resident Matt Shuler, invited his friend and balloon pilot Mark Purdy of Eaton, Colo., to come up and fly his balloon in the great winds and wide open spaces of Walden and North Park. Purdy was so impressed that he and Shuler started the North Park The Sky’s The Limit balloon rally that year. The rally is still going strong and is something that the 600 residents of Walden look forward to every year.

A paid flight with a commercial balloon can be fairly expensive. Besides the pilot, who must have instructional flight training and be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a number of crew members to inflate and deflate the balloon, and operate chase vehicles are required. The balloon is considered an airframe by the FAA, and for the most part, the requirements are the same whether the balloon is flown commercially or just for fun.

Walden, known as the moose capital of Colorado, is a small community where the major industries are hay farming and ranching. Matt Shuler says, “Half the town is related to me and the other half is related to my wife,” so it is not hard to recruit sponsors and volunteer crew members. Most do it just for the fun and the chance of a balloon flight, but the sponsors do it for the community and the guaranteed flight.

The pilots really enjoy sharing their flights with crew members. “The whole town comes out for this rally and I’ve flown everybody from a very young girl to a 92-year-old woman, who was really excited at the experience. Pretty much everybody in town has flown.” said Robin Guinan of Colorado Springs and the pilot of “Marv’n the Martian.”

Guinan received his pilot certificate in 2000 and three years later home-built the experimental aircraft, Marv’n the Martian in his garage. Balloons are referred to as ‘she,’ but the 100,000 cubic foot Marv’n is a ‘he.’ “The small town rallys are the most fun.” said Robin, “At a small town rally, you get this special group. This is why Walden is so special, especially to me, because I’ve been coming up here since it started. The friends that you see are like family members and that’s what makes this rally so special.”

Preparing the balloons for flight begins early in the morning on the Walden high school football field. Everything that you need to inflate and fly a balloon can be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. There are not a lot of parts to a hot air balloon. The envelope (inflatable part) of the balloon fits into a canvas bag and pretty much everything else fits into the basket.

Inflating the balloon is not complicated, but does take some skill on the part of the pilot. The envelope, which is made of nylon panels, is removed from the bag and laid out on the ground. The basket is laid on its side and attached to the envelope. The burner (one or two) is attached to the top frame of the basket and to the propane tanks, which sit in the corners of the basket.

A large fan is brought in to blow regular air into the envelope and give it some shape. At this point the balloons look like beached whales on the grass of the football field, and you start to realize just how big a 100,000 cubic foot balloon really is. Then the burner is started and the air inside the envelope is heated and expands, which provides lift to the balloon and begins to stand the balloon upright.

Once the balloon is upright, it does not take much more heat before it is “up, up, and away” on a flight that can last as long as an hour. Once aloft, the pilot has up and down control, but, other than that, the balloon goes where the wind goes. The pilot and chase car are in communication and the pilot wants to set the balloon down in an accessible spot and the chase car wants to be there when the balloon touches down.

If you would like to see a balloon rally, there are quite a few left in Colorado for 2011.

Contact Alan Luksik at (303) 699-6302 for more information. For complete information on balloon rallys in Colorado, please contact the Colorado Balloon Club at http://www.ColoradoBalloonClub.net.

Balloons do not engage in races, unless it is a race around the world or some other long distance. A festival suggests coordinated balloon events and vendors. Since the recent gathering of 14 balloons in Walden, Colo., was neither a race or a festival, what was it? The gathering of balloonists in the small town of Walden in the North Park area of Colorado is called a ‘rally.’

A rally is basically a get together of friends who fly their balloons, enjoy the fellowship of fellow balloon enthusiasts, and, in the case of Walden, share that enthusiasm with the whole town. “We have a great time,” said event coordinator Matt Shuler, “everyone is relaxed, we are going to recreate, we are going to do some fishing, we’re going to do some hiking, some sightseeing, and we’re going to do a lot of napping.”

Nine years ago Walden resident Matt Shuler, invited his friend and balloon pilot Mark Purdy of Eaton, Colo., to come up and fly his balloon in the great winds and wide open spaces of Walden and North Park. Purdy was so impressed that he and Shuler started the North Park The Sky’s The Limit balloon rally that year. The rally is still going strong and is something that the 600 residents of Walden look forward to every year.

A paid flight with a commercial balloon can be fairly expensive. Besides the pilot, who must have instructional flight training and be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a number of crew members to inflate and deflate the balloon, and operate chase vehicles are required. The balloon is considered an airframe by the FAA, and for the most part, the requirements are the same whether the balloon is flown commercially or just for fun.

Walden, known as the moose capital of Colorado, is a small community where the major industries are hay farming and ranching. Matt Shuler says, “Half the town is related to me and the other half is related to my wife,” so it is not hard to recruit sponsors and volunteer crew members. Most do it just for the fun and the chance of a balloon flight, but the sponsors do it for the community and the guaranteed flight.

The pilots really enjoy sharing their flights with crew members. “The whole town comes out for this rally and I’ve flown everybody from a very young girl to a 92-year-old woman, who was really excited at the experience. Pretty much everybody in town has flown.” said Robin Guinan of Colorado Springs and the pilot of “Marv’n the Martian.”

Guinan received his pilot certificate in 2000 and three years later home-built the experimental aircraft, Marv’n the Martian in his garage. Balloons are referred to as ‘she,’ but the 100,000 cubic foot Marv’n is a ‘he.’ “The small town rallys are the most fun.” said Robin, “At a small town rally, you get this special group. This is why Walden is so special, especially to me, because I’ve been coming up here since it started. The friends that you see are like family members and that’s what makes this rally so special.”

Preparing the balloons for flight begins early in the morning on the Walden high school football field. Everything that you need to inflate and fly a balloon can be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. There are not a lot of parts to a hot air balloon. The envelope (inflatable part) of the balloon fits into a canvas bag and pretty much everything else fits into the basket.

Inflating the balloon is not complicated, but does take some skill on the part of the pilot. The envelope, which is made of nylon panels, is removed from the bag and laid out on the ground. The basket is laid on its side and attached to the envelope. The burner (one or two) is attached to the top frame of the basket and to the propane tanks, which sit in the corners of the basket.

A large fan is brought in to blow regular air into the envelope and give it some shape. At this point the balloons look like beached whales on the grass of the football field, and you start to realize just how big a 100,000 cubic foot balloon really is. Then the burner is started and the air inside the envelope is heated and expands, which provides lift to the balloon and begins to stand the balloon upright.

Once the balloon is upright, it does not take much more heat before it is “up, up, and away” on a flight that can last as long as an hour. Once aloft, the pilot has up and down control, but, other than that, the balloon goes where the wind goes. The pilot and chase car are in communication and the pilot wants to set the balloon down in an accessible spot and the chase car wants to be there when the balloon touches down.

If you would like to see a balloon rally, there are quite a few left in Colorado for 2011.

Contact Alan Luksik at (303) 699-6302 for more information. For complete information on balloon rallys in Colorado, please contact the Colorado Balloon Club at http://www.ColoradoBalloonClub.net.

Balloons do not engage in races, unless it is a race around the world or some other long distance. A festival suggests coordinated balloon events and vendors. Since the recent gathering of 14 balloons in Walden, Colo., was neither a race or a festival, what was it? The gathering of balloonists in the small town of Walden in the North Park area of Colorado is called a ‘rally.’

A rally is basically a get together of friends who fly their balloons, enjoy the fellowship of fellow balloon enthusiasts, and, in the case of Walden, share that enthusiasm with the whole town. “We have a great time,” said event coordinator Matt Shuler, “everyone is relaxed, we are going to recreate, we are going to do some fishing, we’re going to do some hiking, some sightseeing, and we’re going to do a lot of napping.”

Nine years ago Walden resident Matt Shuler, invited his friend and balloon pilot Mark Purdy of Eaton, Colo., to come up and fly his balloon in the great winds and wide open spaces of Walden and North Park. Purdy was so impressed that he and Shuler started the North Park The Sky’s The Limit balloon rally that year. The rally is still going strong and is something that the 600 residents of Walden look forward to every year.

A paid flight with a commercial balloon can be fairly expensive. Besides the pilot, who must have instructional flight training and be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a number of crew members to inflate and deflate the balloon, and operate chase vehicles are required. The balloon is considered an airframe by the FAA, and for the most part, the requirements are the same whether the balloon is flown commercially or just for fun.

Walden, known as the moose capital of Colorado, is a small community where the major industries are hay farming and ranching. Matt Shuler says, “Half the town is related to me and the other half is related to my wife,” so it is not hard to recruit sponsors and volunteer crew members. Most do it just for the fun and the chance of a balloon flight, but the sponsors do it for the community and the guaranteed flight.

The pilots really enjoy sharing their flights with crew members. “The whole town comes out for this rally and I’ve flown everybody from a very young girl to a 92-year-old woman, who was really excited at the experience. Pretty much everybody in town has flown.” said Robin Guinan of Colorado Springs and the pilot of “Marv’n the Martian.”

Guinan received his pilot certificate in 2000 and three years later home-built the experimental aircraft, Marv’n the Martian in his garage. Balloons are referred to as ‘she,’ but the 100,000 cubic foot Marv’n is a ‘he.’ “The small town rallys are the most fun.” said Robin, “At a small town rally, you get this special group. This is why Walden is so special, especially to me, because I’ve been coming up here since it started. The friends that you see are like family members and that’s what makes this rally so special.”

Preparing the balloons for flight begins early in the morning on the Walden high school football field. Everything that you need to inflate and fly a balloon can be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. There are not a lot of parts to a hot air balloon. The envelope (inflatable part) of the balloon fits into a canvas bag and pretty much everything else fits into the basket.

Inflating the balloon is not complicated, but does take some skill on the part of the pilot. The envelope, which is made of nylon panels, is removed from the bag and laid out on the ground. The basket is laid on its side and attached to the envelope. The burner (one or two) is attached to the top frame of the basket and to the propane tanks, which sit in the corners of the basket.

A large fan is brought in to blow regular air into the envelope and give it some shape. At this point the balloons look like beached whales on the grass of the football field, and you start to realize just how big a 100,000 cubic foot balloon really is. Then the burner is started and the air inside the envelope is heated and expands, which provides lift to the balloon and begins to stand the balloon upright.

Once the balloon is upright, it does not take much more heat before it is “up, up, and away” on a flight that can last as long as an hour. Once aloft, the pilot has up and down control, but, other than that, the balloon goes where the wind goes. The pilot and chase car are in communication and the pilot wants to set the balloon down in an accessible spot and the chase car wants to be there when the balloon touches down.

If you would like to see a balloon rally, there are quite a few left in Colorado for 2011.

Contact Alan Luksik at (303) 699-6302 for more information. For complete information on balloon rallys in Colorado, please contact the Colorado Balloon Club at http://www.ColoradoBalloonClub.net.

Balloons do not engage in races, unless it is a race around the world or some other long distance. A festival suggests coordinated balloon events and vendors. Since the recent gathering of 14 balloons in Walden, Colo., was neither a race or a festival, what was it? The gathering of balloonists in the small town of Walden in the North Park area of Colorado is called a ‘rally.’

A rally is basically a get together of friends who fly their balloons, enjoy the fellowship of fellow balloon enthusiasts, and, in the case of Walden, share that enthusiasm with the whole town. “We have a great time,” said event coordinator Matt Shuler, “everyone is relaxed, we are going to recreate, we are going to do some fishing, we’re going to do some hiking, some sightseeing, and we’re going to do a lot of napping.”

Nine years ago Walden resident Matt Shuler, invited his friend and balloon pilot Mark Purdy of Eaton, Colo., to come up and fly his balloon in the great winds and wide open spaces of Walden and North Park. Purdy was so impressed that he and Shuler started the North Park The Sky’s The Limit balloon rally that year. The rally is still going strong and is something that the 600 residents of Walden look forward to every year.

A paid flight with a commercial balloon can be fairly expensive. Besides the pilot, who must have instructional flight training and be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a number of crew members to inflate and deflate the balloon, and operate chase vehicles are required. The balloon is considered an airframe by the FAA, and for the most part, the requirements are the same whether the balloon is flown commercially or just for fun.

Walden, known as the moose capital of Colorado, is a small community where the major industries are hay farming and ranching. Matt Shuler says, “Half the town is related to me and the other half is related to my wife,” so it is not hard to recruit sponsors and volunteer crew members. Most do it just for the fun and the chance of a balloon flight, but the sponsors do it for the community and the guaranteed flight.

The pilots really enjoy sharing their flights with crew members. “The whole town comes out for this rally and I’ve flown everybody from a very young girl to a 92-year-old woman, who was really excited at the experience. Pretty much everybody in town has flown.” said Robin Guinan of Colorado Springs and the pilot of “Marv’n the Martian.”

Guinan received his pilot certificate in 2000 and three years later home-built the experimental aircraft, Marv’n the Martian in his garage. Balloons are referred to as ‘she,’ but the 100,000 cubic foot Marv’n is a ‘he.’ “The small town rallys are the most fun.” said Robin, “At a small town rally, you get this special group. This is why Walden is so special, especially to me, because I’ve been coming up here since it started. The friends that you see are like family members and that’s what makes this rally so special.”

Preparing the balloons for flight begins early in the morning on the Walden high school football field. Everything that you need to inflate and fly a balloon can be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. There are not a lot of parts to a hot air balloon. The envelope (inflatable part) of the balloon fits into a canvas bag and pretty much everything else fits into the basket.

Inflating the balloon is not complicated, but does take some skill on the part of the pilot. The envelope, which is made of nylon panels, is removed from the bag and laid out on the ground. The basket is laid on its side and attached to the envelope. The burner (one or two) is attached to the top frame of the basket and to the propane tanks, which sit in the corners of the basket.

A large fan is brought in to blow regular air into the envelope and give it some shape. At this point the balloons look like beached whales on the grass of the football field, and you start to realize just how big a 100,000 cubic foot balloon really is. Then the burner is started and the air inside the envelope is heated and expands, which provides lift to the balloon and begins to stand the balloon upright.

Once the balloon is upright, it does not take much more heat before it is “up, up, and away” on a flight that can last as long as an hour. Once aloft, the pilot has up and down control, but, other than that, the balloon goes where the wind goes. The pilot and chase car are in communication and the pilot wants to set the balloon down in an accessible spot and the chase car wants to be there when the balloon touches down.

If you would like to see a balloon rally, there are quite a few left in Colorado for 2011.

Contact Alan Luksik at (303) 699-6302 for more information. For complete information on balloon rallys in Colorado, please contact the Colorado Balloon Club at http://www.ColoradoBalloonClub.net.

Balloons do not engage in races, unless it is a race around the world or some other long distance. A festival suggests coordinated balloon events and vendors. Since the recent gathering of 14 balloons in Walden, Colo., was neither a race or a festival, what was it? The gathering of balloonists in the small town of Walden in the North Park area of Colorado is called a ‘rally.’

A rally is basically a get together of friends who fly their balloons, enjoy the fellowship of fellow balloon enthusiasts, and, in the case of Walden, share that enthusiasm with the whole town. “We have a great time,” said event coordinator Matt Shuler, “everyone is relaxed, we are going to recreate, we are going to do some fishing, we’re going to do some hiking, some sightseeing, and we’re going to do a lot of napping.”

Nine years ago Walden resident Matt Shuler, invited his friend and balloon pilot Mark Purdy of Eaton, Colo., to come up and fly his balloon in the great winds and wide open spaces of Walden and North Park. Purdy was so impressed that he and Shuler started the North Park The Sky’s The Limit balloon rally that year. The rally is still going strong and is something that the 600 residents of Walden look forward to every year.

A paid flight with a commercial balloon can be fairly expensive. Besides the pilot, who must have instructional flight training and be licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), a number of crew members to inflate and deflate the balloon, and operate chase vehicles are required. The balloon is considered an airframe by the FAA, and for the most part, the requirements are the same whether the balloon is flown commercially or just for fun.

Walden, known as the moose capital of Colorado, is a small community where the major industries are hay farming and ranching. Matt Shuler says, “Half the town is related to me and the other half is related to my wife,” so it is not hard to recruit sponsors and volunteer crew members. Most do it just for the fun and the chance of a balloon flight, but the sponsors do it for the community and the guaranteed flight.

The pilots really enjoy sharing their flights with crew members. “The whole town comes out for this rally and I’ve flown everybody from a very young girl to a 92-year-old woman, who was really excited at the experience. Pretty much everybody in town has flown.” said Robin Guinan of Colorado Springs and the pilot of “Marv’n the Martian.”

Guinan received his pilot certificate in 2000 and three years later home-built the experimental aircraft, Marv’n the Martian in his garage. Balloons are referred to as ‘she,’ but the 100,000 cubic foot Marv’n is a ‘he.’ “The small town rallys are the most fun.” said Robin, “At a small town rally, you get this special group. This is why Walden is so special, especially to me, because I’ve been coming up here since it started. The friends that you see are like family members and that’s what makes this rally so special.”

Preparing the balloons for flight begins early in the morning on the Walden high school football field. Everything that you need to inflate and fly a balloon can be carried in the bed of a pickup truck. There are not a lot of parts to a hot air balloon. The envelope (inflatable part) of the balloon fits into a canvas bag and pretty much everything else fits into the basket.

Inflating the balloon is not complicated, but does take some skill on the part of the pilot. The envelope, which is made of nylon panels, is removed from the bag and laid out on the ground. The basket is laid on its side and attached to the envelope. The burner (one or two) is attached to the top frame of the basket and to the propane tanks, which sit in the corners of the basket.

A large fan is brought in to blow regular air into the envelope and give it some shape. At this point the balloons look like beached whales on the grass of the football field, and you start to realize just how big a 100,000 cubic foot balloon really is. Then the burner is started and the air inside the envelope is heated and expands, which provides lift to the balloon and begins to stand the balloon upright.

Once the balloon is upright, it does not take much more heat before it is “up, up, and away” on a flight that can last as long as an hour. Once aloft, the pilot has up and down control, but, other than that, the balloon goes where the wind goes. The pilot and chase car are in communication and the pilot wants to set the balloon down in an accessible spot and the chase car wants to be there when the balloon touches down.

If you would like to see a balloon rally, there are quite a few left in Colorado for 2011.

Contact Alan Luksik at (303) 699-6302 for more information. For complete information on balloon rallys in Colorado, please contact the Colorado Balloon Club at http://www.ColoradoBalloonClub.net.