FOUR CORNERS – Long-time Ridgway balloon pilot and organizer of the Ridgway Balloons ‘n’ Vrooms Festival, Gary Woods, has been invited to participate in a first-ever event in Monument Valley Tribal Park, this weekend, April 2-3.
The Navajo Parks and Recreation announced its first Hot Air Balloon Event at Monument Valley. There will be two launches, one on Saturday morning and the other on Sunday morning. There will also be a night glow on Saturday evening at dusk. Pilots and spectators can expect to use various launch sites down the Monument Valley road. Fifteen pilots have been invited to this unique World Premier Balloon Event, each pilot having met all expectations needed to fly over the Navajo Tribal Park land. They are all very aware of the cultural sensitivity that surrounds Monument Valley and the fragile environment of this beautiful landscape.
Hot air ballooning has emerged into a spectacular sport and has not dramatically changed since the first flight in 1783 by the Montgolfier brothers, in Paris. The balloons only fly in near perfect weather conditions with minimal wind.
Today, the balloons come in many different shapes and sizes, but they all use propane to fuel their craft and fly in the morning when the wind is calmest. Most people assume that these balloons are very quiet, but it is quite the opposite; the burners are very noisy. The pilots selected for the event are all very experienced, having achieved over 35 hours of flight instruction, attained a commercial pilot’s license, completed ground school for basic aviation training, passed a written test for hot-air balloons, and obtained a flight check issued by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The 15 pilots selected to fly at the World Premier Balloon Event in Monument Valley are: Don Edwards (Albuquerque, NM), Judith Holt (Phoenix, AZ), William Lee (Gallup, NM), Glen See (Albuquerque, NM), Donald Stockley (Murray, UT), Jeffery Johnson (Flagstaff, AZ), Dorothy Harrison (Phoenix, AZ), Sally Bartsch (New River, AZ), Sally Heinrich (Phoenix, AZ), Gary Woods (Ridgway, CO), Kent Barnes (Murray, UT), Doug Lenberg (Farmington, NM), Phil Cambell (Bayfield, CO), Phred McAllaster (Santa Fe, NM) and Bryan Hill (Page, AZ).
These pilots will bring the excitement of ballooning to Navajo country and the Navajo people. This a free public event hosted by Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, which will include a variety of additional entertainments. Local artists will be on site displaying their work. And there will be informative booths for spectators to view. Balloon events are a very social and casual event. For more information call 928/871-6647 or go to www.navajonationparks.org and select Balloon Event.