Indianola’s National Balloon Museum gets Largest Donation Ever

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INDIANOLA, Iowa - The National Balloon Museum just received quite an uplifting gift.

Though the exact amount has been asked to remain private by the family, Gary Tarter - a balloonist and friend of the museum's - has left a large donation to the museum in his will. Tarter passed away last October from a heart attack while in a hot air balloon in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The gift is the museum's largest ever, which also houses offices for the National Balloon Classic and the Balloon Federation of America. A non-profit with only volunteers as its staff, Indianola Mayor Kelly Shaw says the donation will help the museum preserve hot-air balloon history -- and its ties to Iowa -- for years to come.

"We chronicle the history of ballooning here. When you look around, like up to my right, you can see baskets, that date clear back to 1900 that were used by the United States Navy for naval training, and aviation training," he said. "We have other historical balloons here, including the first hot air balloon to cross the English Channel. So, a lot of history here."

The National Balloon Museum in Indianola is one of two historic balloon museums in the United States. The other is located in Albuquerque.