The National Balloon Classic gets off the ground tonight (Friday) in Indianola. Classic executive director Greg Marchant says the have several special balloons including “The Flying Purple People Eater” and “Burgess the Penguin.” The balloons will make a mass assent tonight at 6:30 from the launch field near Indianola.He says they’ll cap the evening off with a “night glow.” The balloons hold still on the ground as the put heat and fire into the balloon and the balloons glow like a light bulb. Marchant says the official kick off of the event is Saturday. He says they’ll have the opening ceremonies around six o’clock and then another mass ascension and a fireworks display. Merchant says the competition begins Sunday, with balloon teams trying to hit targets from the air. He says the targets are “X’s” laid out and the pilots try to drop bean bags down toward the target. The teams earn points based on how close they get to the targets. Merchant says some 100 balloons will take part in the event. He says like anything else, the balloons have advanced in technology.He says from the fans that use cold air to blow up the balloons to the burners, gas tanks and gondolas, technology has improved. Merchant says part of the new technology includes using global positioning satellite technology. He says it’s a neat experience for pilots to mark out targets using the g-p-s. He says it won’t help them be any more accurate, because they have to account for the wind direction, but he says it gives them a better idea of where the targets should be. The 36th National Balloon Classic runs through August 6th. For more information, surf to:www.nationalballoonclassic.com.
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