BILLINGS — Keep your eyes to the sky this week in Billings because the Big Sky Balloon Rally is back.
This year you can spot nearly 30 pilots soaring high in the sky, who’ve traveled from all over the world just to be here for this free event for the public. The best place to view for 6:00 a.m. ascensions is at Amend Park.
"Typically the mornings are the best time to fly," says balloon pilot and Big Sky Balloon Rally board president Chris Jones.
That's exactly when you’ll see these balloons over Billings, shortly after the 6 a.m. weather briefing from KTVQ’’s Ed Mcintosh, who makes sure the skies are safe to fly and the wind speeds are low enough.
“When the sun comes out and heats the ground it creates thermals, and a hot air balloon and thermals don’t mix. Those don't happen in the first few hours of the morning. The morning flights are absolutely beautiful,” says Jones.
It's a great view from below and not bad from above, where pilots like Chris Jones get a bird's eye view of treetops, water and wildlife.
“When you get in the air, it's one of the most peaceful things that you’ll ever know because you’re actually traveling with the wind, not against it, so if the wind is going four miles per hour, you’re traveling at four miles per hour with the wind at your back and nothing but beautiful views in all 360 direction,” says Jones.
Something Chris’s family enjoys as they wake up early to traverse a small part of the universe together.
“I'm 10 and I am a crew, so I like to chase the balloon and I help with anything the balloon really needs to get it up,” says volunteer and crew member Stella Jones.
The nonprofit is always looking for volunteers like Stella to help with four morning balloon ascensions Thursday through Sunday and a Saturday evening balloon glow with kids activities and a live band called Fake News.
“I've met a lot of cool people that I like to hang out with when I go to balloon festivals,” says Stella.
So come say Hi and take in the view.
Balloon launches begin each morning Thursday through Sunday at 6 a.m. The balloon glow begins at 6 p.m. Saturday. For more information, visit the Big Sky Balloon Rally website.