BLACK HILLS, S.D. — Experiencing the Black Hills in a balloon is a unique point of view. It’s a peaceful ride in the sky as our balloon floats over the terrain.
Petra Wilson has been flying balloons for over seven years and founded the Fall River Balloon Festival that grows in popularity each year.
“We call it a balloon family, ya know, so it becomes a balloon family reunion at a rally or a festival and we look forward to seeing each other each year,” said Wilson, a Balloonmeister and the owner of Western Horizons Hot Air Balloons.
The adventure begins early with plenty of balloon prep time. Then once in the sky, it’s time to relax and take in the scenery. This particular flight covered 6 miles of ground, rose to 1,000 feet in the air and had a top speed of 24 miles per hour.
There is plenty of math and science being used to make a balloon fly and also land. There’s also a considerable amount of time looking at weather predictions.
“We watch the weather all the time, we watch it several days out – we watch it the night before, the morning of and we have lots of nice weather apps that we use that are specifically created for balloons,” Wilson said.
This year’s festival is scaled back a bit, but spectators can still watch the balloons launch in a safe environment.
“It’s a great opportunity to have people come out and enjoy the outdoors and enjoy the balloons; it’s fun that way,” Wilson said.
It’s also a chance to learn more about the balloon mechanics.
“A lot of people have seen balloons in the sky, but so many people don’t have the opportunity to get up close to them to see you know, how it’s put together,” Wilson said.
This year about 20 balloons are expected to come to the festival that come from all over the United States.
The Hot Springs Municipal Airport Field where the Festival is held offers plenty of space to physically distance. Spectators are encouraged to bring their own chair and take in all the events that are offered.
One of the highlighted events this weekend is the balloon launch on Saturday morning from the balloon night glow at dusk on Saturday night.
Click here for the latest announcements about the festival.
Due to COVID-19, they are not currently planning to offer sales of Balloon Rides at the 2020 Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival.
Click here for the official website.