“Rising to the Occasion”
I decided to join a meet-up group to shoot the Quickcheck Balloon Festival at Solburg Airport in Whitehorse,NJ. Having seen pictures of balloon events out west, I was curious about what I would experience here on the east coast. It rained the night before and the start of the day looked bleak. Lots of overcast skies and some rain were predicted. I thought that since my destination was over an hour’s drive away, maybe the weather would improve. The heavy clouds never cleared but the rain held off.
After parking my car, I took a long walk to a very large field filled with vans and trucks. Still no balloons in site. Then suddenly people came out of their vehicles, as if on cue, and unfolded large sheets of very colorful material which they spread out on the grass. Looking around, I still was not able to get a sense of what was coming next. Teams of helpers and pilots were starting to fill the deflated shapes by blowing air into them with fans. These huge fans were replaced by burners which heated up the air and made these colorful shapes rise.
And rise they did, from all over the field. The balloons transformed into many different shapes and sizes. There were balloons that took on the shape of a butterfly,cow and even a soda can. The many teams that launched these colorful wonders came from all over… Canada, out west and many from the east coast. The pilots of each balloon were very informative and gracious in answering my many inquiries. As I tried to maneuver to get a shot of the inside of these behemoths, the colors and patterns drew me in like a bug to light.
Everyone was excited to see them rise, if only to be stalled in mid-air by tethers attached to their trucks. Up, up and away was not to be this day. The cloud cover was too thick and the weather radar did not show much promise. It felt like a sporting event paused in mid-air. Even though deflation was near, I did not feel deflated. This experience had lifted my spirits and left my mind’s eye free to capture the possibilities by chronicling the occasion.