Hot Air Balloons Invade Central Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa -- About 27 hot air balloon pilots flew over central Iowa on Monday to prepare for the National Balloon Classic.

Jim Fromm, with the National Balloon Classic, said they have been doing this early preparation flight over Des Moines for about five years and there is a lot that goes into putting a balloon in the air.

“The hotter you get the higher you go and the more weight you can carry. And then you cool down and come down. Hopefully there will be a little bit of steerage, a lot of times when you go up, you’ll take a right turn and when you come down you go to the left,” Fromm said.

Almost all of the balloons in the pre-show flight will be at the National Balloon Classic July 28 - Aug. 5.

“There's about 100 balloons that come. We have some special shapes, we do night glows, which are a real crowd favorite. A lot of times we get the crowds to come out and get up close and personal with the balloons and the pilots and the crew and they always enjoy that,” Balloon Pilot Al Appenzeller said.

Fromm said one thing he wants people to know is that balloon flying is fun, but it’s a serious thing too.

“There’s pilots in the baskets. So many times when you draw pictures, if you look close there are people in these baskets. It’s a component of the balloon. You’ve got the basket, burner, envelope and that’s the balloon. Well you’ve got to have a pilot too,” Fromm said.

Appenzeller said he got hooked after his first ride.

“We like to joke that your first flight is free and your second flight costs 30 to 40 thousand dollars. I did get my first ride and then decided it was something I really liked to do and then I crewed for a long time and then I decided I wanted to become a hot air balloon pilot,” Appenzeller said.

National Balloon Classic info:

  • Morning admission FREE
  • Evening admission $5 (Ages 6 and over)
  • Children FREE ADMISSION PASS (Ages 5 and under)
  • To purchase tickets online, visit tikly.co/nationalballoonclassic
  • Parking is free
  • Balloon rides contact: Galena On The Fly, Inc. 815-777-2747 GalenaOnTheFly@yahoo.com