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Kanab, Utah's Weekly Newspaper, Serving Kane County, Utah & the Arizona Strip

Southern Utah News Front Page: February 25, 2021

Southern Utah News Front Page Photo

Landing on a prayer

Jeremy Houston took this cool shot of the balloons taking flight over the Kane County Office of Tourism billboard promoting the event!

By Neal Brown

Balloons and Tunes offered residents and tourists a successful weekend as the balloons were able to launch all three days.Weather conditions weren’t perfect, but the brave pilots still gave onlookers a show.

This may be the first year since its inception that a balloon got a little wet during a surprise landing in the reservoir. KSL photojournalist Matt Newey shared his experience to KSL, exclaiming, “we started coming over this reservoir area, and you could kind of feel it. It was like we hit this wall of wind and we just started dropping and descending really quickly.”

At that point, they started bracing for the watery impact. “It’s getting pretty windy, we’re going to get wet!” Matt recalled thinking. He continued, “Then it tips over sideways and the whole thing starts filling up with water.” The trained pilot sprung into action, leveling the balloon up and out of the water so they could prepare to get out without tipping it over.  “I wouldn’t want to land any other way,” Matt concluded. 

After many years of debating whether to sponsor a balloon, Ben and Melanie Alderman, owners of Quality Printing, decided to pull the trigger to celebrate their 15-year wedding anniversary. If you saw a balloon disappear over the eastern plateau and wondered to yourself, “where do they think they’re going?” you’re not alone. Ben thought the same thing! As an avid outdoorsman, he knew the landing opportunities would be scarce, so he directed the pilot to continue to Johnson Canyon for a safer landing. Reaching a top speed of 28 mph and obserivng a stunning view over the cliffs of Kanab, the Aldermans said the sponsorship was definitely worth it. 

I also had the opportunity to take my first flight in a balloon, thanks to the seasoned pilot Kurt Adelsburger and his wonderful crew. We also had a hair-raising adventure, landing on Hwy 89, just north of town. 

Getting to see my mother ride in the balloon, which was on her bucket list, without knocking her out of the bucket was especially sweet.

Adelsburger, who has been piloting since 1996, eased us down ever so carefully away from traffic, power lines, and a crewmember’s Jeep. To my surprise, knocking one crewmember to the ground, and almost dragging the other along the pavement didn’t seem like as big of a deal as it should have been.

Instinct kicks in and makes you want to reach out and slow yourself down, but that would only make things worse causing the balloon to tip. Adelsburger was much more calm than I, knowing exactly how to communicate with crewmembers and passengers to ensure ultimate safety for everyone involved.

As the crewmembers guided us to a safer spot to touch down, I was pleased to be in the hands of a skilled, 30-year balloonist veteran, but also ready to go up again the very next chance I get.  Sipping sparkling cider, per tradition after a successful balloon flight, I found myself reflecting on the beauty of human ingenuity as we recited the balloonist prayer:

May the winds welcome you with softness.

May the sun bless you with its warm hands.

May you fly so high and so well that God joins you in laughter

And sets you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.

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