The National Balloon Classic gets underway tomorrow in Indianola. Balloonist and former national champion Rob Bartholomew says there’s nothing to match this event. He says it’s probably second only to Albuquerque as the biggest event of its kind in the U.S., with over 100 balloons coming this year. Fans of the hot-air craft will have to get up early to see much of the action, the veteran pilot explains.They’ll fly from seven A.M. till nine in the morning, and then again in the evening from 6-30 till dark, as he explains balloons fly mornings and evenings when the winds are most likely to be calm. Bartholomew had already learned to fly small planes when he saw his first hot-air balloon, and says it was a while till he took up ballooning. Back when there were only six balloons in Indianola they floated over his family’s farm, but though he was fascinated from his first sight, it wasn’t until a few years later when he broke an ankle and had time to think about it that he decided to take up ballooning. It’s peaceful, he says, and takes all your friends — you have to have a whole crew to fly, as compared to an airplane where you just “take off by yourself.” Plus, in a balloon, he says you never land where you’ve taken off, and don’t know just where you’re going to land. You can get details and maps to the Balloon Classic, which begins Friday and runs through Saturday August 7, at