By Cortez Fields
Balloon pilots from around the world launched from schools around Lake Havasu City Thursday, treating students to a balloon launch from their school grounds. Across the city, balloons could be seen launching from these sights, with young onlookers cheering them on. Balloon launches occurred at the following schools:
Smoketree Jeff Haliczer
Nautilus Donna Carlton-Vish
Oro Grande Bruce Wood
Starline Jim Dolan
Havasupai Peter Van Overwalle
Thunderbolt Jason Gainesm, Ken Walter, Sheldon Grauberger
High School Dean Baker, Bill Glen, Michael Glen
Calvary Peggy Watson-Meinke
Telesis Pat Newland
HPA Deb Waltman
Guiding Light Cliff Skocdople, Richard Clark
Our Lady of the Lake John Phillips
ASU Steve Lacroix, Morgan Braden
Pat Newlin, an experienced balloon pilot of 20 years, educated the students of Telesis Preparatory Academy about hot air balloons before launching today. Clear, concise and remarkably skilled, Newlin is flying the Cloudkisser for the Balloonfest and fair this year.
Telesis Preparatory students listened and watched Newlin demonstrate the process of how hot air balloons are inflated and how they take flight. Newlin ran through the procedure with student onlookers as the massive Cloudkisser inflated, first with cold air from an industrial fan, and then with hot air from the fan on the balloon.
A former special needs grade school and high school teacher, Newlin is now considered to be a certified mentor for pilots in hot air balloons. Her teaching experience is evident in the way she discusses her balloon; despite it being a complex process, she artfully broke it down for the youth and staff present. The roar of the fan startled and excited the children of Telesis Preparatory as they watched in admiration of the Cloudkisser’s flight into the skies above Havasu.
The Cloudkisser is a regular in the balloon festival. The Cloudkisser is a unique balloon because it is a “firefly” which utilizes a triangular basket instead of the traditional square basket. Newlin has been flying at the festival for at least six years and considers it one of her favorite rallies.
She has been at several rallies since she earned her pilot’s license in 1999, spanning across the country. She has also flown in Leon, Mexico, for the rallies there, which she finds quite enjoyable. Prior to flying, Newlin manned a chaser crew in Wyoming for the Cloudkisser, which is considered to be the pride of Riverton. The balloon is also a huge part of the Riverton Rendezvous, the city’s own long-running balloon festival, according to rivertonrendenzvous.com.
The seasoned pilot loves to do splash-and-dashes, which is when the balloon skims the lake water and pops back into the air again. She’s had memorable experiences flying through the slot canyons in Page, and one of her wildest landings was in Havasu, in which she landed on a golf course just shy of a few palm trees. She appreciates her loyal chaser crew, which include John, Diana, and Ron, who have been helping her over five years. Other chasers also speak highly of Newland and love flying with her.
Check out the Cloudkisser, Newlin and more exciting pilots at the 9th annual Balloon Festival and Fair this weekend. The festival kicked off Thursday, and ends on Sunday, at 3 p.m., at Windsor 4.