As the 4th of July holiday approaches, the Freedom Festival is in full swing. On Tuesday, June 28, I will experience my first Cedar Rapids Balloon Glow!

It takes place at Brucemore, 2160 Linden Dr SE, starting at 6:00 p.m. and while this is the first time I will witness the Cedar Rapids Balloon Glow, I've been lucky to see this type of spectacular display in other cities. I am a big fan of hot air balloons and have even once enjoyed a balloon ride!

In the spirit of sharing new experiences, I have assembled a list of hot air balloon fun facts, some that may surprise you!

  • Did you know that balloons typically only launch in the mornings and early evenings? The reason for this is because of favorable weather conditions, as safety is the number one priority of any hot air balloonist.
  • There is a ground crew that follows the balloon's flight to offer assistance and support. Upon landing, it is traditional for the pilot to present a bottle of champagne or other small gift to the landowner whose field that balloonist has landed in.
  • If you've ever thought of owning a hot air balloon, you'd need a pretty thick wallet, depending on how big you want it to be and how high you want to go. If you're thinking of purchasing your own hot air balloon my advice is "don't go cheap". Cameron Balloons is one of the most respected manufacturers in the USA, and has a world-wide reputation for quality.
  • For most of us, a nice gift certificate for a single balloon flight is just fine. There are several local hot air balloon businesses that offer rides, including Balloon Travels and Buzzards Glory Balloons.
  • The first manned hot air balloon flight was achieved by the French in 1783. The first American manned balloon flight was ten years later in 1793. So. its a sad fact that the USA came in second place in both the "space" and "sub-space" race. To carry paying passengers for hire, a balloon pilot must have an FAA commercial pilot certificate.
  • "Lawn Chair" balloon flight is an extremely dangerous sport. Some may say these folks are adventurous, others say they are just crazy. But you have to admit, it looks kinda fun!