Editor’s note: Here is yet another post written by a GUEST writer(Barry and his wife Jenni) here on NOadventure.
The Pennington Balloon Championship is an annual hot air balloon festival held each year in Baton Rouge. Since its inception in 1989, participants have come from all over to take part in the events, the final being the “balloon glow” – when all the pilots fire up the propane jets simultaneously in the early evening. A parachute team performs nightly, and each night is capped off with a fireworks show.
The festival took place at the Pennington Biomedical Research Park, which is located on Perkins Road just west of Staring Lane (Essen):
My wife Jenni and I got there around 6:30 Saturday evening to see the mass ascension. With 30 balloons in this year’s event, that seemed like the best thing to see.
We found out shortly after we got there that they cancelled the mass ascension due to weather – it had been storming earlier that day and even though the skies seemed okay, there were enough clouds in the vicinity to make it a little too danergous. Yeah, that sucked, but there was still a lot to see. The Black Daggers parachute team dropped themselves from a plane and made their way down to the field:
Not long after these guys were done, the crews started inflating the massive balloons for the balloon glow. Here is what one crew started with:
Yep, the entire balloon is inside that blue pack to the right of the basket. The balloon crews seemed to be mostly families, with everyone participating when it was time to get them up and going.
A high-speed fan would blow air into the balloon while a few people held it open…
It took about 15 minutes to get the balloon as full as possible before firing up the propane burners. These balloons won’t go anywhere without the heat – simple thermodynamics… heat rises, right?
The balloons would right themselves as the air inside heated up…
About a half hour after they started, the field was full of these things. And we found ourselves in the middle!
It was starting to get dark by this time, and you could see when the pilot would fire up the propane heater… because the entire balloon would glow.
The goal here was to get all the balloons to fire their heaters at once, so they’d all have the glow at the same time. An announcer counted them down. We found out later that some of the balloon pilots wouldn’t fire their heaters because the balloons were already so full of hot air that they were fighting to keep them down. Still, it was an impressive sight…
We’ll go back next year, but will go early in the morning for the competition. I remember that back when I lived in Baton Rouge, every year on the day of the competition, the city skies were full of balloons – I’d like to see that again.
Did I mention that this is all free?
Check out this video of the final flaming/filling and listen to “today’s hottest country:”
Here’s another video of the balloon flames going ballistic!