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Friday balloon flights called off

Friday balloon flights called off

Jul 20, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

Weather conditions grounded hot-air balloon enthusiasts Friday in the first of three scheduled Riverton Rendezvous launches.

At 7:08 a.m., balloonmeister Pat Newlin said balloon flights for the day would be canceled because of strong upper winds and the threat of storms.

"The weather we are seeing is nothing of what has been forecast," Newlin said. "It is brisk up in the air, which makes it risky to fly."

More than 100 people gathered at the Central Wyoming College launch field for the first day of balloon flights, which are part of the 32nd annual Riverton Rendezvous.

Pilots from Colorado, Utah, Kentucky and California were to take firefighters and members of the media up in the balloons Friday before the main weekend flights Saturday and Sunday.

Newlin said it would be unsafe and that she would rather have fliers on the ground wishing they were up in the air than have them up in the air wishing they were on the ground.

Although the Friday flights were canceled, Newlin is optimistic the Saturday and Sunday flights will still take place.

"According to the weekend forecasts, we should have good weather," Newlin said. "We would just rather be safe than sorry."

The specially shaped balloon for this year's rally is piloted by Kentucky native Rich Lawhorn, who is the 2012 Rendezvous guest celebrity balloonist.

Lawhorn inflated his Humpty Dumpty balloon to give spectators something to see. He'll also speak Friday night at Realty Broker Plaza in downtown Riverton.

"The winds up high are stronger than the winds down on the ground, which is never a good thing," Lawhorn said. "I just decided to go ahead and inflate Humpty Dumpty for everyone to enjoy him."

Lawhorn said the balloon, which he purchased from friends, is more than than seven stories tall.

The balloons are scheduled to launch at 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the CWC launch field. Participants can take a tethered ride in one of Riverton's familiar Cloudkisser balloons at 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.

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