Hot air balloons bring summer fun

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Hot air balloons can be a fun addition to summer. Several balloon festivals exist in Utah County. (Kjersten Johnson)

Summer has arrived and Utah County is full of fun things to do. There are hikes, pools, lakes and concerts, but even more unique are the opportunities to see the county from a bird’s-eye view.

Skywalker Balloon Company owner Will Drummer became interested in hot air ballooning 20 years ago when he recognized how beautiful Utah is. All he wanted to do was share the beauty with others.

“I wanted to show people in the most time efficient manner possible how pretty this state really is,” Drummer said. “Then I saw a hot air balloon on TV one day and decided that’s what I was going to do.”

Showcasing beauty from a hot air balloon is not an easy task.

“Ballooning is a very, very challenging sport,” Drummer said. “It’s the oldest form of aviation. You can fly 1,000 times in the same location and have 1,000 different challenging flights.”

Balloons soar high over Park City during the Autumn Aloft festival. (Kjersten Johnson)

Potential riders shouldn’t let the degree of difficultly scare them out of having the experience. Drummer said about 20 percent of his clients are initially anxious about the flight.

“They do just fine,” he said. “Any feelings of anxiety usually wear off after 10 or 15 minutes.”

Park City Balloon Adventures owner Miles Izers got into ballooning because of some of his friends that worked with balloons. He said that it quickly became a passion of his. He now loves being a part of the experience with his passengers.

“I like to see their excitement and their awe; that magical moment they feel and you can see it,” Izers said.

Izers also said that ballooning is an extremely safe activity.

“It’s safer than walking across the mall parking lot or the college parking lot,” Izers said.

It involves smooth takeoffs and landings and offers amazing views. Groups can experience the thrill together because his balloons are built to hold up to 12 people.

During the annual Freedom Festival there will be a balloon fest starting at 6:30 am on July 1, 2 and 4 at Bulldog Field at 1100 N Freedom Blvd. It is a free event that will feature about 25 giant balloons. Pilots will compete in games such as dropping bean bags on targets from balloons and jousting while over 200 feet in the air.

Other ballooning events are taking place this summer in Eden, Springville, Salina and Layton.  More information can be found at hotairballoon.com.

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