The conditions on Sunday morning couldn't have been better for balloon flight. A high-pressure system provided a much better opportunity for launch than the low-pressure system that hovered over the park on Saturday
morning. The wind was flowing softly down valley, and just after sunrise 11 balloons were launched, surrendering themselves to nature's mercy. Some spectators who gave the pilots a hand in inflating their balloons were even offered a ride. And Saturday night's bal loon glow also went off without a hitch. All told, said festival promoter Marilyn Branch, "Everything went just about perfect. [The festival] was a huge success this year."
The air inside the balloon can reach up to 245 degrees, enough to slowly roast a ham. This same heat was welcome relief Saturday morning from the cold temperatures, even though, after launching several helium balloons, balloon meister Peter Percupio declared that the conditions were not stable for un-tethered flight. Pilots explained the general mechanics and navigational features of hot air balloons to shivering but attentive listeners. Others recounted some of their experiences in balloons in races and flights to heights of over 20,000 feet.
Saturday night provided ideal conditions for the annual balloon glow. The pilots inflated five balloons that dwarfed main street's mostly two-story buildings. Come sundown the glow was underway as the crowd looked on in awe. An ocean of flashing cameras complimented the enormous glowing balloons that turned on and off as pilots worked to add light but not so much heat that the balloons would take off. The combination of perfect lighting, still air, radiant balloons, and flashing cameras created a surreal ambience. The balloons illuminated adjacent buildings with a soft, flickering light. The overall display lasted over a half-hour and gave people incentive to wake up early on Sunday to see the full-fledged launch.
Then, on Sunday, perfect flying weather. Once the balloons had launched just after dawn, the bursts of hot air could be heard from several blocks away. The balloons floated lazily over town for about half an hour as they effortlessly drifted westward with the gentle breeze. Upon reaching the west side of town, the balloons landed safely in the Clark's Market parking lot, the high school athletic field, and Pearl Property.