INDIANOLA, Iowa- The National Balloon Classic Grounds were kind of quiet on the first day of competition. The first ascension is not scheduled until 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Bill Clemmons, the race director, said nearly a hundred balloonists are expected. It is his task to organize different types of competitions such as object drops on targets. Friday night an event is scheduled called “Tip The Outhouse.” The event is sponsored by Jim’s Johns.
The event is designed to offer more entertainment than just the balloon launch. Friday at 6:00 p.m. the Tony Bohnenkamp band will be performing. Saturday night at 6:00 p.m. it’s the Nadas who will play. Evening session admission is $5.00 for adults, kids under 12 are free. The 6:30 a.m. launch is free of charge.
Clemmons gets asked often about how to know if there will be a flight on a given day. He says he does not know as weather conditions can change. He said it’s not uncommon to wait to launch to see if conditions improve.
“We have to watch the weather, storms within 100 miles you cannot fly a balloon,” said Clemmons. “Once we get the wind speed, then we determine the direction,” said Clemmons. “We have areas we try to keep people away from, so that’s important.”
Clemmons says the mornings are the best time to see a launch.
“In the morning the wind on the ground will be blowing 90 to 180 degrees different than it is at 1000 feet,” he said.
The pilots can use that wind difference to better steer their balloons to be able to drop bean bags on the target. That is how a winner is determined, by who can drop a bean bag closest to the X target.