New Smyrna Beach balloon festival back for third year
Balloon pilots and enthusiasts gather for the second annual New Smyrna Beach Balloon Fest, on Saturday, May 22 2010. Thousands of people throughout Central Florida are expected to attend the New Smyrna Beach Balloon Fest at NSB airport on May 21-23. The fest started last year as a one-day event that drew roughly 10,000 people. This year's event, extended to three days, will feature 25 hot-air balloons, helicopters, airplanes and live music. (Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda, Orlando Sentinel / May 22, 2010)
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The event features one-hour balloon rides, tethered balloon rides as well as helicopter and airplane ride-alongs. There will be balloon glows on Friday and Saturday night and air shows planned for Saturday and Sunday.
Balloon festivals are subject to the weather, especially the wind, but the weekend outlook is good, with sun and temperatures in the high 80s expected on the coast.
"The weather's looking perfect," said Arlen Stauffer, chairman of the event.
Friday night gates open at 5 and open until 11, with beer available until 10. There will be a Kids Fun Zone, Education Zone, vendors and entertainment on stage.
Saturday and Sunday gates open at 6 a.m. with beer served from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday. Gates close at 11 p.m. on Saturday and 5 p.m. Sunday. Both weekend days will feature hot-air balloon passenger flights begin at 7 a.m., lasting about 1 hour. Entertainment across the two days include Classical Pianist William Perry, Rhonda Patrick, the Beu Sisters, Payne Brothers Southern Rock Band and Clyde Harris and Street Talk. There will also be radio-controlled airplane performances, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle demonstration and a horse demonstration.
The noon air shows on both Saturday and Sunday will feature parachute jumps, Sean D. Tucker in the Oracle Challenger, a T-6 solo by the AeroShell Aerobatic Team, a Sopwith Camel and Triplane in a World War I dogfight, John Black in the Super Decathlon, Greg Koontz (in a mystery plane...), Patty Wagstaff in her Extra 300S, a U.S. Military fly-by (if available at the time of show), Jerry and Andy, Red Star and the Dragon JET TEAM, P-51 Mustang Aerobatics, the AeroShell Aerobatic Team T-6s and a World War II Warbird fly-by.
Admission is only $5 for parking per car, so they recommend carpooling. They ask you don't bring coolers, but there will be hundreds of vendors selling all sorts of food.
Reservations for the one-hour balloon rides are no longer being taken, but there are a couple Saturday morning rides still available and about a dozen on Sunday. Tickets for those rides will be on sale at the event beginning Friday night, and some could still be available Saturday morning. Cost is $199 per person.
The helicopter ride-along will be offered in Robinson R44 choppers and cost $28. Tickets can be purchased at the event.
The airplane ride-along will be in two classic North American Aviation T-6 Texans, advanced trainers that were used to train pilots in the US Air Force, US Navy, Royal Air Force, and British Commonwealth during World War II. Rides in these classic birds are offered for 15 minutes, and you can choose whether or not you want to include some rolls and loops over the beach. The regular ride is $180 and the ride including aerobatics is $195. Tickets can be purchased at the event.
The tethered-balloon ride costs are only $10 per person and do not require a reservation. Tickets can be purchased at the event. They will be available Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Find more details on the festival website at seasideballoonfest.com.