The 28th annual Air Balloon Fiesta kicked off Friday in Vernon.
Seven balloons took off on the north end of Vernon, across from the Home Depot, Friday morning and began heading towards Armstrong. This morning’s goal: maximum distance, which means the air balloon that gets the farthest distance from the take-off location within the hour, wins.
Among those who took to the skies Friday morning was air balloon pilot Evan Erickson, 27.
Erickson said he has been an admirer of air balloons his whole life so, after taking his first flight as a passenger five years ago, he decided to get his licence.
“I’ve been a pilot for three years but I started coming to this festival when I was a little kid, chasing balloons around with my parents,” he said.
“It’s all weather dependent,” said Erickson. “We meet at 7:45 in the morning and check the weather together as pilots and make a decision. Lots of times you can’t go, so we’re kicking this off with a pretty great start because the weather cooperated this morning.”
Flights throughout the weekend are set to take place: Friday morning and afternoon, Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning. Briefings, where pilots decide whether or not to fly, will take place at 7:45 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Because flights are weather dependent, the North Okanagan Air Balloon Society encourages people to follow them on Facebook to receive the most up-to-date information.
Proud to hosting 5 events and the home to the Hot Air Balloonists at this year’s Vernon Winter Carnival. Follow our (The Green Pub Vernon) on Instagram or Facebook for further details. #VernonBC @TourismVernon pic.twitter.com/3o58hFvmic
— Village Green Hotel (@VillageGrnHotel) February 2, 2019
They also wanted to thank the businesses and people of Vernon who made the event possible.
“Without Lordco, City of Vernon Tourism, Electric Ninja, Donald Machine for their financial support and Superior Propane, Village Green Hotel and Okanagan Ballooning for their substantial Product support, Home Hardware and Banister Honda or their prize donations this year’s event would not have taken place,” North Okanagan Hot Air Balloon Society wrote in a press release. “As we are not funded by any government grants or by City of Vernon funding, except through the Tourism department, it is difficult to raise the funds necessary to host this event. If we do not secure definite commitments of funding and support in advance this could be the final flight of the balloons in Vernon.”
Other companies who supported the event with product and funds include: Brand Alliance, Nedco, Sunfire Systems, Skyeye-UAS, Great West Equipment, Hillview Golf, City Electric, Memphis Hair Group, Staples, World Health and Fitness, Blenz Coffee, The Healthy Spot, Andres Electronics, Voets Kaffee, Ladies World Health and Fitness, Beyond Belief, Karen Sochan (Avon), Kiki Gardens, Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Safeway and The Green Pub.
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