Among the more than 50 hot air balloons at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival you’ll find a handful of special shapes that evoke love, joy, swashbuckling fun, and even make you meow.
Celebrating 40 Years of Ballooning in Plano, we proudly share these as the beloved special shapes and pilots participating in 2019. And if you’d like to volunteer to get a hands-on experience with the balloons then sign-up for a shift with a hot air balloon crew. Volunteers help with inflation, lift-off, landings, the evening glow, and receive a free festival shirt.
The Petrehn family name has been, for many decades, connected with ballooning and John Petrehn recalls, “My first flight in a hot air balloon was when I was just a couple of years old and could not event see over the side of the basket. My father was the pilot.”
John became an FAA licensed balloon pilot at the age of only 16 and is currently the #4 ranked pilot in the world. “Ballooning is my full time job, profession, career, hobby, and obsession,” explains the owner of Magniflight hot air balloon company based in Houston.
Among his more than 50 awards, John won the 2006 World Hot Air Balloon Championship held in Tochigi, Japan and again in 2010. The 19th FAI World Hot Air Balloon Championship took place in Debrecen, Hungary and John was among top competitors from five continents and 33 countries.
Although John and his highly experienced chase crew typically log 100 flights a year, this will be their first time launching Bimbo® bear here in Plano, the Hot Air Balloon Capital of Texas. “It is a magical feeling when you lift off, especially in the beautiful Bimbo® bear balloon. The crowd loves the special shape and always send us off with a loud cheer,” states the pilot.
Bimbo® bear is a brand new special shape hot air balloon, representing the Bimbo Bakeries USA company and Bimbo® brand sweet baked goods, which
is headquartered in Horsham, Pennsylvania. Standing 105 feet tall, the Bimbo® bear is 78 feet wide and weighs nearly 600 pounds.