The 23nd Annual Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival will take flight November 22-24, 2013, in Yuma, Arizona. This popular event attracts balloonists from around the country for mass liftoffs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. Early morning hours are the best times for balloons to take off and rise above the majestic cactus because the air is cool and the winds are calm.
In addition to the spectacular views of these floating vessels soaring over the Sonoran Desert and Colorado River, festival attendees can enjoy a sunrise flag ceremony, float in tethered balloons, purchase refreshments and souvenirs and cheer for local students launching miniature balloons made from tissue. They also can take part in the Barney’s Convenience Store Desert Balloon Glow at Yuma’s Desert Sun Baseball Stadium. Tethered balloons fill the baseball field to capacity while their burners fire at full flame. The effect is an intense glow brightly illuminating the dark of night. The sights, sounds and close camaraderie of the event make it a favorite among many.
If you missed last year’s festival, don’t let it deflate you. Rise to the occasion by planning a vacation to Arizona today. Be sure to bring your camera. It’s picture perfect in Arizona and the Colorado River Crossing Balloon Festival always provides plenty of high-flying photo opportunities.
Blowing Up Balloons – So You Know When You Go
The most colorful part of the balloon is called the envelope. It’s made from tightly woven nylon or polyester and coated with an airtight sealant. It is typically 55-feet wide and 60- to 80-feet tall. Wicker is commonly used in making baskets because the material is strong and flexible. It is generally wrapped around a steel or aluminum frame to help support the burner. Prior to inflation, the balloon is spread out on the ground and the basket is placed on its side and crew members hold the mouth of the balloon open while fans fill the envelope with air. Once the balloon has been filled, the pilot ignites the burners using environmentally-friendly propane gas. Buoyancy is achieved by heating the air inside the balloon. Flights usually last an hour, depending on the weather.
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Balloons drift with the wind. That means the speed of the wind determines the rate of speed a balloon floats through the air. When it’s time to land, the pilot simply lets cool air into the envelope of the balloon and it will begin to descend. A chase crew on the ground stays in constant radio contact with the pilot in order to have a vehicle arrive at the proper location to pick up the pilot, passengers and balloon equipment.