June 30
Balloon Fest in California

When we were invited down to Sonoma County to fly kites at the Windsor Balloon Fest, we jumped at the chance. More than 30 balloons were scheduled for the event and we were supposed to fill the same field with big kites once they had lifted off.

Balloon Launch Balloon Launch Balloon Launch

Earlier this year, Susie and I had tried our first balloon ride. We had huge piles of ripstop lofting in to the air, wide open spaces, and lots of hot air. I felt right in my element!

The kite program was organized by Elaine Leitner of Second Winds in Santa Rosa. Her crew, along with fliers from Bodega Bay and the neighboring communities brought sport kites and larger single lines to entice the crowd.

Light Breezes

Fan Power

The whole idea of balloons and kites works well since the balloons leave early in the morning, deserting huge fields and leaving behind thousands of spectators. And it seemed like a good business opportunity too since those folks spend a lot more on their inflatable toys than we do.

The only problem was that balloons work best with no wind and kites take at least a minimal breeze. During the transition period between 'wind and no wind', it is hard to put on much of a show...

We eased pilots and lifters into the morning sky, and even resorted to trying the balloon fans to keep the public entertained.

Balloons are actually inflated with cold air before the hot air is blasted into them. But fans don't work well on kites since they only blow against the front sail. Kiters know that it is wind going over the top of the sail that generates lift.

Since the crowd was leaving and wouldn't be back until the late-afternoon picnic, we decided to go check out the local wineries and grab lunch. When we got back to the field, the winds were warm and smooth, blowing straight down the field. Within an hour, we had five big ones up and were playing with the mid sized pieces.

Kite Show Kite Show Kite Show

I was invited for a balloon ride the next morning. All I had to do was be there at 4:30 a.m. The problem was that coastal fog was expected and I really hated the idea of going down to the field at the crack-of-dawn if nothing was going to be happening. I told my hosts to call me if the weather was good or pick me up at eight...

Sure enough, the fog rolled and I slept a few hours longer. (Sleep is a good thing!) Then I headed to the park for breakfast.

When we got to the field, all the balloons were inflated and anchored. Owners were giving rides up and down for $5 each. That made for a fun show but we knew there would be no kite flying. And besides, we'd accomplished our objectives the day before. With smiles and hugs all around, I headed for the airport early.

Strawberry Pancakes!

Susie and I have a week off and then head out for a flurry of festivals. We'll be in Westport, do an informal show in Myrtle Beach, and then connect to Newport.

See you out there somewhere!!

New Product!

Here's a message that someone in the house will appreciate! Women Fly!.

Susie wears one of these great baseball hats wherever we go. She liked them so much she made me buy a case.

We've got stonewashed charcoal or red and black brushed twill. Each comes with an adjustable leather back-strap. They go for $18 each. And a portion of the proceeds supports the Women Fly program honoring women aviation pioneers.

Women Fly Cap

Don't forget that we're offering an introductory discount on our special Japanese Rokkakus. The deadline is technically June 30, but we're extend the offer through July 4 to give you one last shot at a great kite at a great price.

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