By Bill Stansbeary
The 2005 Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival was presented by RE/MAX at Chatfield State Park August 26 through August 28. Balloonmeister Gery deKoevend helped the crowd of over 50,000 enthusiasts get close to the 55 hot air balloons on the ground and in the air.
With early morning mass ascension flights starting the three-day activities, there were also WWI aircraft over-flights by the Colorado International Aviation Museum, powered paraglider flights, a “Lites in the Night” balloon illumination, and competition flights. Mark Grylicki, from Boulder, as well as Carl Young, from Carlisle, Iowa, and Jim Sireno, from Loveland, won the high point competition.
The largest hot air balloon flying was RE/MAX International’s “Soaring Home,” piloted by Russ McLain from Englewood. RE/MAX was founded in 1973, and has corporate headquarters in Denver. Dave Liniger, chairman of the board and co-founder, is a multi-engine instrument rated commercial pilot that is more well known for his gas balloon flights.
The real estate company started with one hot air balloon in 1978, and expects to pass the 100-balloon fleet size in the near future. The giant “Soaring Home” stands 60 feet high and has 110,000 cubic feet of volume, so there is a large mass in motion. Using two propane burners to warm up the air inside the nylon fabric envelope, the feeling as a passenger inside the gondola basket is one of grand serenity. Even the landing was peaceful, under the light wind conditions, with a ground support crew nearby. The Colorado scenery above Chatfield State Park was spectacular, with a golden sunrise adding to the brilliant surface colors.
This was the 6th annual Rocky Mountain Balloon Festival. It has grown in popularity in the short time that it has been in existence.