The City of Plano hosts the Plano Balloon Festival every fall at Oak Point Nature Preserve, which is virtually in our backyard. It’s an entire weekend of hot air balloon activity: glows, shows, fly-in competitions, launches, and more. We went out for the first time in 2013 and had a really great time with my parents when they were here for a visit, such a good time that we felt pretty silly that we’d missed it all the years that we’d lived in Plano, especially the couple years we’ve been in our house.
Parachute Team Demonstration
This year, we went early Saturday evening to catch two events: the RE/MAX parachute team demonstration and then the Balloon Launch. The parachute team’s demonstration was pretty impressive—a propeller plane circled the park a couple times, climbing a bit in elevation, and then popped a trail of smoke. About 5 or 6 guys dropped from that plane nearly directly overhead and came down in a pretty tight spiral. Each of them then landed in the same strip of the park in the corner near the crowds; at most the landing area was around 60 feet wide and 90 feet long. Very impressive!
Once the conditions were right after the parachute team’s demonstration they began to inflate the hot air balloons for a launch. But while they were doing that, a RE/MAX hot air balloon launched from further East out of our view, floated above the park, and a final parachutist jumped from that hot air balloon, repeating his teammates’ landings, which was pretty interesting. Slowly, the balloons filled up and launched to float off towards the sunset. I’m not sure if it was accidental or not, but there was even a collision between a launching hot air balloon and one that was filling. Nobody looked too panicked about it, but it was a little exciting from the ground. The launching hot air balloon all of a sudden hit the gas and climbed straight up into the air while the co-pilot (or navigator) kept pushing on the other hot air balloon. Again, this time around a couple of the novelty hot air balloons didn’t actually launch. I’m not sure if the conditions weren’t right or if they were just helping put on a show for the crowd by filling up, but I sure would’ve liked to see both the pirate and ladybug balloons up in the air with the rest of the field.
And nearly stealing the show were our two Brittanys, Zoe and Crockett. They didn’t get the same round of applause that the parachute team got, or the “oohs!” and “ahhs!” that the hot air balloons got as they filled up and launched. But none of those hot air balloon pilots had tons of people ask them “Aww, what a sweet-looking Hot Air Balloon, can I pet him?” or exclaim “Man, what a couple of well-behaved hot air balloons!” As far as Julia and I are concerned, they were a smash hit!