The Fifth Annual Breckenridge Continental Divide Balloon Festival was held over Thanksgiving weekend. Hosted by the Breckenridge Resort Chamber, families arrived on Tuesday evening for a reception, a day early, to give the pilots an extra chance for the wind gods to cooperate. The forecast didnít look promising and high winds were predicted for most of the weekend.
Thanksgiving morning pilots and crews arrived at the launch area as a light snow began to fall. Bruce Bussey, Dan Sherrill and Ed VandeHoef (event organizer) tethered, just to let people know that the balloons were in town. The Denver news stations picked it up and along with the great snow footage, made entertaining coverage of the event. Eight inches of snow fell during the day and we all gathered for dinner and a great evening with friends and families.
The sun was shining Friday morning and the enthusiasm was there, but in spite of the right direction, the wind was just a little too fast for the average balloon. The new snow made the skiing awesome as we all hit the slopes for an afternoon of fresh air and blue skies.
Five balloons glowed for a short time both Friday and Saturday evenings. All the crews helped each other out as the mountain winds gusted periodically in every direction.
Saturday morning looked promising for at least an in valley flight and a beautiful inflation was in process. The winds seemed calm but they were only teasing. Several balloons were in the air as the directions started changing and the speeds increased. It was one of the longest 15 minute flights that I ever watched. All of the pilots handled the conditions with great skill and experience and everyone landed safely.