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Balloon crew opportunities Friday; Riverton family finds Balloon Block

Jul 16, 2015 From staff reports

Balloon enthusiasts hoping for a close-up opportunity to crew or ride in a hot-air balloon probably will have a good chance on Friday.

The Riverton Rendezvous balloon rally starts officially on Saturday, but the informal "media flight" on Friday morning is expected to attract several balloons that might not have full crews yet.

Rally "balloonmeister" Pat Newlin of Riverton said the early arrivers often need crew help on Friday morning.

"Not all of the sponsors and crew can be there because of work commitments," she said. "Anyone is welcome to come up Friday and help."

Balloon crews help inflate the giant aircraft and assist at the landing area. Crew members often get to ride in the balloons as well.

Anyone seeking a chance to crew a balloon should be at the launch field at Central Wyoming College at 6 a.m. Friday, Newlin said.

Scheduled ascents Saturday and Sunday also are at 6 p.m. Balloon sponsors are likely to provide crew for those flights, but the public, as usual, is welcome to attend the launches.

This year's rally, the 35th, has 28 balloons registered, including the two Cloud Kisser balloons from Riverton. Newlin and Mike Shelley will pilot Cloud Kisser I and Cloud Kisser II, with one in the air and the other tethered to the ground for low-altitude ascents.

Three specialty shape balloons are in this year's lineup. The most distinctive is "Snobird," flown by Rich Lawhorn of Kentucky. It's in the shape of a giant penguin wearing a hat, floral shirt and sunglasses, with a camera around its neck. Newlin said Lawhorn is expected to fly Snobird on Saturday only.

Debbie Waltman's dragon-themed balloon called "Norman" from Colorado, and an upside-down Humpty Dumpty balloon called "Off the Wall," flown by Jeff Haliczer of Nevada, also are registered.

Steve Scott is the safety officer for the rally, with Dave Lipson the weather officer. Georgia Davis is this year's Riverton Rendezvous president.

Also set are the celebrity adventure talk at 7 p.m. Friday at Main Manhattan by Jan Erhart, a 35-year balloon rally volunteer, and the Saturday night "balloon glow" at the launch field. Wind often forces cancellation of balloon glow, but the weather forecast for all balloon events is favorable this year, Newlin said.

Balloon Block

A Riverton family is $500 richer after finding the Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Block on Wednesday afternoon. Lee Crook returned the object to The Ranger newspaper office after discovering it at a concrete fixture where the Riverton Valley Irrigation District canal crosses under West Pershing Avenue in Riverton.

"We were looking for it Tuesday and Wednesday." Crook said, referring to his wife, Emily, and children Taylor, 10, Katie, 8, Kimmy, 4, and Matthew, 1.

After seeing Wednesday's clue referring to water, Crook said the family "tried to be analytical about it."

"We went to ponds in the parks and then thought about where else there was water," he said. "It was a lot of fun."

Crook also wins a balloon ride with Ranger-sponsored pilot Rocky Neal, who flies a colorful balloon called "La Vi Est Belle."

Riverton Rendezvous provides half of the money for the balloon block prize. Five of a possible seven clues in The Ranger had been published when the block was returned.

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Lee Crook found the Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Block on Wednesday. He wins $500 and a balloon ride. Photo by Tibby McDowell

Lee Crook found the Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Block on Wednesday. He wins $500 and a balloon ride. Photo by Tibby McDowell


Lee Crook found the Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Block on Wednesday. He wins $500 and a balloon ride. Photo by Tibby McDowell

Lee Crook found the Riverton Rendezvous Balloon Block on Wednesday. He wins $500 and a balloon ride. Photo by Tibby McDowell

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