EDITORIAL: Take in the fun

John Petrehn, balloonist, has been a National and World Champion in the past.

Look to the sky, the balloons have arrived.

Over 40 balloons have been, and will continue, to fill the skies over Gering, Scottsbluff and Mitchell. Through Thursday, there will be competitive challenges in the National Hot Air Balloon Championships. Then Friday and Saturday, there is the annual Old West Balloon Fest.

If you have not gotten out and seen the balloons yet, you need to. The competitions challenge the balloonists. Each day there are different challenges.

These are the best of the best, competing to be called the very best. Some of the pilots flying overhead have won nationals. We also have world champions flying.

There are men and women piloting the balloons.

Each pilot has their own story. Each pilot is one of America’s best and each wants to leave western Nebraska with the title.

Watching the balloons inflate and launch into the western sky is a beautiful sight. Witnessing them approach a target is magical and cheering them on as they complete the task is exciting.

To make it to the targets successfully, the pilots and their crews must understand the weather patterns, mathematics and much more. Where they launch, when they launch, how high they go will aid or hinder them in their ability to succeed in the challenge.

Along with the flights (watch our website and social media sites for public viewing sites), there are two night glows planned. The first will be Thursday night at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff. The second will be Saturday night at Five Rocks Amphitheater in Gering. The night glows are amazing as the colorful balloons light up against the dark Nebraska sky.

This is an amazing week in western Nebraska, a week where you must take time out to enjoy the sights, sounds and fun of the National Hot Air Balloon Championships and the Old West Balloon Fest right here in beautiful western Nebraska.

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