Iowa’s balloon museum in Indianola adds a new institution this year. Veteran balloonist “Tex” Houston of Colorado Springs, Colorado, returned to participate in this year’s hot-air balloon classic going on through Saturday, and was on hand when the first member was inducted into the new Hall of Fame. The Balooning Federation of America will award Hall of Fame recognition to pioneering balloonists, and the first chosen is Paul “Ed” Yost, who Houston calls the inventor of the modern hot-air balloon. Houston says Yost is from Indianola and that’s why the annual balloon festival, one of the best-known in the nation, is held there. Yost invented the burner system, the fabric and suspension that constitutes a modern hot-air balloon. Houston says back in the days when they burned old straw to fill them with smoke, hot-air balloon flights did not last a long time and were mostly restricted to exhibitions like county fairs. “Smoke-jumpers” of that era would build a fire to fill the balloon with hot air, and when it began to cool the rider would jump back down using a parachute, having no airborne heater to keep it aloft. Yost was at the balloon museum and gave an hour-long talk about ballooning. Houston laughs that “the man is a national treasure.” Born in Bristow, Iowa, in 1918, Yost trained at Boeing, served in the US Army Air Force, studied meteorology and did high-altitude balloon research for years, sending instruments into the stratosphere. After starting up Raven Industries, a company that makes balloons in Sioux Falls, Yost pioneered the use of the lightweight nylon that’s still used today, and the propane burners that let hot-air balloons keep flying after they lifted off. After reaching a plateau of popularity, Houston says the number of people in ballooning has started to drop a little, and he says they must work to get more young people interested in it. Houston jokes that “the price of flying has not changed in 100 years — it still takes all you have.” For more info, surf to