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Balloons grounded again Saturday

Jul 22, 2012 - By Emily Etheredge, Staff Writer

After Friday morning's failed hot-air balloon launch, Spring Creek, Nev., native Gayle McCoy was ready for other endeavors.

"Forget the weather, I am ready for a good breakfast," McCoy said.

She traveled to Riverton for the 32nd annual Riverton Rendezvous with high hopes of flying.

Due to unstable weather conditions Saturday morning,

the balloon flights again were canceled for the day.

Balloonmeister Pat Newlin made the announcement at 7 a.m. that weather conditions remained uncertain. Pilots were advised to stay on the ground.

"We just don't feel it is safe for the balloons to fly this morning,"

Newlin said. "We will inflate several of the balloons for everyone to enjoy, but unfortunately it is too risky to fly today."

With both the Friday and Saturday flights canceled due to weather conditions, some pilots remained optimistic and hopeful they would be able to fly on Sunday for the last day of the rally, which normally enjoys perfect ballooning weather.

Byron Stevenson of Grass Valley, Calif., has been a hot-air balloon pilot for more than 20 years and hoped to fly in Riverton.

"We obviously want to be safe because you not only worry about the weather conditions, but when you take people up in your basket, you are watching out for them as well," Stevenson said. "It might look OK from the ground but it is a different ballgame up in the air."

Pilot John Miller, also from Grass Valley, Calif., learned to fly a balloon from Stevenson.

"I learned a lot from him," Miller said.

Miller said he enjoys traveling to Riverton's balloon rally because the people are some of the nicest he has met.

"When I go back home I usually tell people Middle America is alive and well," Miller said. "This is some of the most beautiful country, with many places to land a hot-air balloon."

Both pilots agreed it is safer to be on land when there is unstable weather. Telling stories of previous flights, Miller recalled flying when weather conditions looked favorable on land.

"Once I was up in the air everything drastically changed," Miller said. "I have had some rocky landings where I had to instruct the people flying in my basket to hunker down and hope for the best," Miller said.

"We don't want any of that going on today, so if they feel it is unsafe, we should listen to them."

The balloons were scheduled to launch at 6 a.m. on Sunday at the CWC launch field. Participants can take a tethered ride after 7 a.m. Sunday.

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