Pilots gear up for Canadian balloon festival

September 26th, 2017

The Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival is being held in Canada this week, attracting pilots from around the world and thousands of spectators.

American Michael Glen, the world’s only paraplegic balloon pilot, will be amongst those competing. The pilot from Arizona faces stiff competition from world champion Joe Heartsil of Texas in a contest that will test navigational skills at the fifth annual festival in High River, Alberta.

Glen, who has been piloting hot air balloons for over ten years, also goes into primary schools to promote his positive attitude and beliefs that ‘anything’s possible’. He is currently raising money in a bid to build an accessible balloon. This would mean those with disabilities would gain the opportunity to experience the exhilarating feeling of floating in the skies.

This year’s festival is set to take place from Wednesday 27th September to Sunday 1st October. A total of 27 balloons will fill the skies, showcasing an array of shapes, sizes and imaginative designs to impress both the judges and an enthusiastic audience.

Friday 29th sees the action head to Spitzee Elementary School field for a Night Glow show and family entertainment. There will be plenty of fun to be had with balloon walks and a variety of food trucks.

The first festival took place in 2013, just weeks after the town was devastated by floods. Showing true resilience in the face of adversity, organisers went ahead with the gala, reflecting the spirit needed in times of trouble.

Led by High River balloonist Jamie Kinghorn, the event continues to go from strength to strength.