Seventeen teens and a staff of pilots and other volunteers are in the Cordele area this week learning about hot air balloons.
The students have come from all around the country. Some are from ballooning families and have grown up around hot air balloons all of their lives, some have crewed for pilots they have met at festivals or in their community (”crewing” means they help set up and take down balloons and chase them from launch to landing), while others have no experience and have never before touched a hot air balloon. Experience doesn't matter - even the seasoned veterans will learn new things.
The camp is sponsored by the national association, the Balloon Federation of America. Three youth camps took place around the country this year.
The campers will spend practical time outside setting up hot air balloons, learning how they fly, and packing them up. If weather conditions are good, all will also get a ride.
They will learn the difference between systems from different hot air balloon manufacturers.
Campers spend time during the week with different pilots, learning not only how their system is set up, but also how they may approach things differently.
If flying conditions are good (hot air balloons must have appropriate weather to fly), you can see balloons fly shortly after sunrise. You may also see them before sunset, but at this time of year heat makes morning the preferable flying time for camp.
The camp medic, Kylie Humlicek (who traveled from Iowa to volunteer at camp this week), instructed students during their first session on health-related topics, such as how to keep hydrated and not to forget sunscreen in this hot weather. They also learned why gloves are important, why long pants are suggested when flying, and why wearing natural fibers is preferred over synthetics.
Safety is an important point of discussion in classroom time, which occurs throughout the day. They will learn about weather and how to know whether flying conditions are optimum for flying.
Local pilot Ben Drennan is the Camp Director. Drennan knew Cordele would be a great place for these students to learn, because of great flying conditions, landing opportunities and a welcoming community.
You can follow different social media and see what the campers art doing. If you catch the balloons in action and take a picture you would like to share, or if you’d like to learn more about what happens at camp, you can follow along on Facebook, Instagram, and TicTok.
The campers will be in the area until Sunday.
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