Michigan Challenge Balloonfest in Howell June 23-25

- Featuring close to 50 hot air balloons, the Michigan Challenge Balloonfest has become a community tradition in Howell every summer.

To be a part of the magic, there are only a few steps before you're up in the air looking at an amazing bird's eye view.

First is laying the balloon out, hooking up the ropes and inflating the balloon. This process takes only 20 minutes, and then you're up and away!

Pilot Rick Kerber gave the simple scientific backgound for how hot air balloons work.

"By adding heat, it expands the air so it's keeping the ballon nice and packed. the air molcoules are like popcorn they expand as you add heat.," Kerber said. "This ballon - if you're a basketball fan - if one basketball is one cubic foot,  this balllon is 77,000 basketballs."

In order to fly, weather conditons have to be just right.

"We like it below 10 mph an hour at nighttime - the winds will die off," Kerber said. "We don't fly during the day because of the thermal activities, our ballons are senstive to the very tough condtions to fly in during the afternoon; that's why you only see [the balloons] in the morning and at night."

With all of the rules and regulations of hot air balloon riding, the conditions cause people to question how much of a concern for saftety there should be surrounding the rides.

However, Kerber sees no cause for concern. "Ballooning 101 is that ballooning is extremely safe - very very safe. It creates a lot of fun - it puts a permanent smile on your face," Kerber said. 

This year at Balloonfest the pilots are sure to be competitive and are always looking forward to support from the community.

"Forty nine skilled pilots are here at the Michigan Challenge. If you come out Saturday and Sunday morning, weather permitting, we'll be flying into the school," Kerber said. "It's a lot of fun to come and cheer us on as we come in."

The Michigan Challenge Balloonfest will take place this weekend from Friday, June 23 to Sunday, June 25. For more information, visit www.michiganchallenge.com.

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