It's Up to Reno, Then Up and Away at Balloon Fest
By Mel Shields, 'Sacramento Bee'
Participants at the 28th annual Great Reno Balloon Race are as diverse as the hot air balloons they fly. The event features the launch of more than 100 balloons. Brenda Hungerford is one of the few female balloon pilots. "I spent three years traveling to races as a chaser and doing other jobs, and then said to myself, 'I can do this,' " she recalls. "I learned to fly, got my license, got my balloon and moved to Nevada. A lot of people don't know that a hot air balloon is a registered aircraft with the FAA." Balloon racing is actually recommended for people with a fear of heights, such as Hungerford's husband. Also participating in this year's Reno race is Michael Glen, a pilot who is paralyzed from the waist down. He says balloon flying is a tradition in his family. Glen applied for a balloon pilot's license a year after the accident that took his ability to walk, and eventually he acquired one. "You can tell my balloon at any race," he says. "It doesn't have the traditional basket but rather what looks like a ski lift, occupied by one other person and me."
October 14, 2009