Have you ever wanted to learn more about hot air balloons? We are recruiting folks to help crew for pilots for the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival the weekend of September 21-23, 2018. Volunteers will learn to help with setting up, inflating, launching, and packing up the hot air balloons after a flight during regularly scheduled balloon activities at the festival. There are two flights a day and the morning crew meets at 6:00 a.m. and finishes around 10:00 a.m. The evening crew begins at 4:00 p.m. and finish by 8:00 p.m. Breakfast is provided for the morning shift and dinner is provided after the evening shift.
Hands-on training is scheduled for 6:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 15 at Oak Point Park in Plano, Texas. In the event of rain, the training session will take place on the following day, September 16 at the same location.
The Dolphin balloon owner Jason Myers is participating as a pilot for only the second time at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. Jason has volunteered as a crew member for other pilots for more than 10 years and currently resides in McKinney, Texas. Last year Jason won 4th place in the Plano Balloon fly-in competition and was one of 40 balloons to set a World Record at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium for the “Most Hot Air Balloons Inflated Indoors.”
“My first flight in a hot air balloon was September 12, 1981 when my Aunt Gayle flew my Dad and I from Silver Springs Park in Stow to Brimfield in Ohio. It got me hooked with a love for aviation and sport of ballooning,” recalls Jason Myers. “In the pilot logbook under ‘Nature of Flight’ my Aunt Gayle simply wrote, ‘Fun.’ I recorded ‘coolest thing ever done’ in my mental logbook.”
According to Jason, The Dolphin is a “she” balloon because female dolphins are lighter than males, and in ballooning, the lighter the better. Manufactured by Avian, The Dolphin is 60,000 cubic feet and a Falcon II. The two dolphins swimming around were hand sewn onto the balloon in the basement of a church by friends and family. There are more than 400 round “water bubbles” that his Aunt Gayle meticulously positioned and the light blue, green, yellow, and dark blue colors represent the ocean, land, sun and sky.
“I started flying and taking lessons when I was 16 years old. I flew as a student pilot for many years and finally completed my Private Pilot’s license for Lighter than Air (LTA) classification in 2013.”
Jason adheres to a strict 3-Strike Rule explaining that if that many things go wrong before a flight then it’s best to stop the negative pattern before getting in the air and not fly at all.
On the flip side, hot air balloon newbies, upon completion of their first flight, receive the traditional glass of champagne (or sparkling cider) and Balloonist’s Prayer recited as the toast. Concealed in The Dolphin basket, Jason always carries a sentimental memento of his Aunt Gayle, who lost a battle to cancer in 2001.
“I get a rush of excitement every time I lift off. The feeling of leaving the ground and becoming airborne is a rush that continues with every flight.”
Sharing a love of ballooning with the community is what Jason believes is the best part about the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival. He enjoys answering questions about the balloon and the look in the eyes of children when they come up to the basket, watch the glow of the burners, and feel the heat.
“There’s something magical about the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival because of the excitement and energy that it brings to people as they watch the balloons inflate, stand up, and lift-off into the sky,” explains Jason Myers.
Jason regularly drives The Dolphin to nearby fields within Collin County and logged approximately 30 flights in 2015. He also owns and flies a larger Cameron balloon, that is 105,000 cubic feet, the “A.M. Sunrise” named for his daughter Abigayle Marie. Outside of ballooning Jason is a Product Specialty Manager at Great Southern Wood that manufactures treated lumber and distributes construction material.
This summer The Dolphin inflated at Oak Point Park and below is a live video in real-time of Jason Myers and his balloon. Make plans to see The Dolphin swimming on the field September 23-25, 2016 at the InTouch Credit Union Plano Balloon Festival www.planoballoonfest.org.