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Hot air balloon festival kicks off in Southern Hills

The sixth annual Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival takes flight this weekend, but pilots were already gathering in the Southern Hills, itching to take flight.
The sixth annual Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival takes flight this weekend, but pilots were...
The sixth annual Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival takes flight this weekend, but pilots were already gathering in the Southern Hills, itching to take flight.(Miranda O'Bryan)
Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 3:28 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The sixth annual Fall River Hot Air Balloon Festival takes flight this weekend, but pilots were already gathering in the Southern Hills, itching to take flight.

Friday morning, a handful of pilots, ground crew, passengers, and onlookers gathered at the Hot Springs Municipal Airport for a pre-festival flight.

A local pilot said there’s nothing like floating among the clouds.

”It’s very peaceful and it’s very smooth. It is a nice, relaxing thing to do,” said Rich Olstad, a hot air balloon pilot. ”You’re flying an aircraft that’s lighter than air with an ambient heater. So you’re heating the air inside to give you lift. We go up, we catch different wind currents at different altitudes and we fly. It’s kind of like sailing in the sky.”

Due to weather, things were up in the air on whether or not the balloons could take flight Friday, and although they didn’t, more than 20 hot air balloons are scheduled to take flight Saturday and Sunday around 6 am.

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