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Make sure to check out our rich cultural restaurant scene. From German cafés to Mexican fare, and good old mid-western comfort food, you will find it all here. Our local bar scene will provide you with fantastic local music and great place to unwind. On behalf of the 2019 Old West Balloon Fest and U.S. Hot Air Balloon Championship Committee, the Scotts Bluff County Community and the State of Nebraska, we would like to thank each of you for attending the U.S. Hot Air Balloon Championship and the 5th Annual Old West Balloon Fest. While you are here, we hope you take advantage of everything Western Nebraska has to offer. From our countless museums, activities on the North Platte River, Riverside Discovery Center, hiking Scottsbluff National monument or Wildcat Hills, visiting Chimney rock or Lake Minatare, you can keep yourself busy.

On behalf of the city of Mitchell, I would like to welcome the US National Hot Air Balloon Competition to western Nebraska.

Please take the time to visit with our local businesses, patronize their shops and they will show you that Western Nebraskan hospitality is one of our best assets. Make sure to ask where you can find the best homegrown sweet corn, I’m sure you will want to take some home! If someone waves to you as you drive past, wave back, it’s what we do here. Welcome!

Colleen Johnson Executive Director

It is my pleasure to welcome the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championship to Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska. We are excited that this championship event is being hosted in the Scottsbluff-Terrytown-Gering area.

On behalf of the city of Mitchell, I would like to welcome We hope you will take some time to visit our city

We are honored to welcome the pilots, their crews, their families, and visitors to the area. You will find that the Mitchell area is a very relaxing, slower pace of life. We hope you take time to enjoy what the community has to offer such as scenic views of the Scottsbluff National Monument, incredible sunrises and sunsets, and Chimney Rock on the Oregon Trail.

the US National Hot Air Balloon Competition to picnic western including beautiful Terry’s Lake, parks, and experience our outstanding quality of life,

shelters and pathways. Enjoy great dining experiences at our restaurants. We welcome the opportunity for you to experience first-hand the warm, western Nebraska hospitality of Terrytown. Thank you for choosing to share this special time with us. Welcome to Terrytown, Nebraska -In the middle of it all!

Nebraska. We are honored to welcome the pilots, their crews, their families, and visitors to the area. You will

Again, welcome to our community and we hope you enjoy your stay here.

Þnd that the Mitchell area isSincerely, a very relaxing, slower pace


Sincerely, Dave Curtis, Mayor of Mitchell, NE

of life. We hope you take time to enjoy what the Chris Perales, Mayor of Terrytown, NE

community has to offer such as scenic views of the Scottsbluff National Monument, incredible sunrises and

Old West Balloon Fest & Balloon Launches


Schedule of Events WNCC, Night Glow August 15th gates open 6:00 p.m.

Old West Balloon Fest

at Mitchell Airfield Morning

Launches August 16-17 gates open 5:30 a.m.

Five Rocks Amphitheater, Night Glow August 17th gates open 5:00 p.m.

Five Rocks Amphitheater Night Glow

Welcome to Gering and Western Nebraska! We thank the Balloon Federation of America, On behalf of the City of Scottsbluff, it is my pilots and crews for selecting Gering and our partner pleasure to welcome the U.S. National Hot Air communities to host the 2019 U.S. Nationals Hot Air Balloon Championship and Old West Balloon Fest, Balloon Championships. Gering is a community that offers rich history and warm hospitality to all our held August 11-18, 2019. We are excited that this visitors and we look forward to hosting your balloon Championship event is being hosted in the enthusiasts this August.the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Community. OnScottsbluff/Scotts behalf of the Bluff City County of Scottsbluff, it is my pleasure to welcome On behalf of the City of Scottsbluff, it is my pleasure to welcome the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon

Championship and Old West Balloon Fest, held arethisexcited that this Championship Championship and Old West Balloon Fest,August held August 11-18, 11-18, 2019.2019. We are excited that Championship We understand andWe appreciate the preservation of event istime being hosted in the Scottsbluff/Scotts County Community. We hope you hosted will takein some to visit our CityBluffBluff event is being the Scottsbluff/Scotts County Community. our past while looking forward to our future. During

We hope youquality will take some time to visit our City and experience our outstanding of life, including and experience our outstanding of life, your stay in Gering and quality ballooning in Western beautiful parks, thriving business corridors, cultural events, and great restaurants. We welcome the including beautiful parks, thriving business Nebraska; you’ll experience, firsthand, community opportunity for you to experience first-hand the hospitality of Western Nebraska and thank you for choosing We hope you will take some time to visit our City and experience our outstanding quality of life, including to sharegreat this special time with us. volunteerism and the commitment of our businesses, corridors, cultural events, and restaurants. beautiful parks, thriving business corridors, cultural events, and great restaurants. We welcome the tourism partners and residents working together for We welcome the opportunity for you to experiopportunity for you to experience first-hand the hospitality of Western Nebraska and thank you Sincerely, the success of the Nationals Championships whilefor choosing ence first-hand the hospitality of Western Nebraska to share this special time with us. nurturing a strong sense of place during your stay. and thank you for choosing to share this special Raymond Gonzales time with us. I warmly welcome you to our beautiful city. My best Mayor

Sincerely, Sincerely, Raymond Gonzales, Mayor of Scottsbluff

Raymond Gonzales

wishes for a successful U.S. Nationals Competition. Tony Kaufman, Mayor of Gering


You never know what you’ll find when you go the extra mile. This is Nebraska, but not the Nebraska you’ve seen before. This part of Nebraska is why the word vistas was created. It’s just sitting here in Gering, waiting for the adventurous to experience it.

That’s what happens when you go the extra mile.


Gering Visitors Bureau · 800-245-0717 ·


A Different Kind of Horse-Drawn Carriage Takes to the Skies


By: Jackson Valls There’s a very recognizable stagecoach taking to the skies. Well, it’s not as much horse powered as it is propane fueled. Ron Sanchez is the pilot of the iconic “Cent’r Stage”, a peculiar hybrid of aircraft and vehicle that is sure to grab the viewer’s attention. It is perhaps one of the biggest advertisements, in cubic feet squared, to exist. “I got my first balloon ride when I was 11 years old. I was instantly hooked! The next year my relatives bought a balloon and I have been involved (ever) since. I have been in ballooning for 38 years.” He’s been flying for Wells Fargo since 2013, only a decade after receiving his pilot’s license. One has to wonder if it is more difficult to fly a stagecoach than a regular balloon. In the ballooning community there is an important distinction between hot air balloon: special shapes and competition balloons. Special shapes are pretty self-explanatory, anything that resembles something other than the traditional image of a balloon. Competition balloons are as aerodynamic as possible, often much smaller, so that the pilots have an easier time changing direction with the winds. Piloting the Wells Fargo balloon seems no easy feat. Different edges, the large size and shape of the craft are all factors Ron must manage. “There are a lot more variables flying special shape balloons. Weather, they require larger landing spaces, number of required ground crew, fuel consumption.” Believe it or not, special shapes don’t require specific training or

certificates, “It is more familiarization training than anything. Finding out the unique characteristics of each different balloon.” Wells Fargo hires many volunteers to help with their fleet of balloons, but only the pilots are paid. And with good reason, too. Wells Fargo has admitted that a number of customers from all over the United States mention their flying stagecoach. Their fleet includes two competition balloons and of course, the flying stagecoach, Cent’r Stage. They in fact have their own department to manage the balloon service and are one of the oldest corporate sponsored balloon companies in America. The pilots of this fleet are chosen by their experience and corporate ballooning history. This makes Sanchez quite qualified for the position. “I have over 1200 flight hours in different sizes of balloons. I have flown balloons ranging in size from 54,000 cubic feet to 310,000 cubic feet. I am also an Assistant Chief Instructor at a Part 141 flight school in Albuquerque, NM. I have taught people from as far away as Kenya how to fly hot air balloons.” For those interested in spectating, “Cent’r Stage,” The stagecoach makes appearances in a handful of places around the country each year. Notably at Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico and, soon, Old West Balloon Fest for both night glows and both morning launces at Mitchell airfield. Sanchez also enjoys flying in Colorado Springs, Colorado; Reno, Nevada; Lake Havasu City, Arizona; and Park City, Utah where it can also be viewed. Wells Fargo has captured the awe of children and adults alike, may it continue for years to come.


We’re proud to sponsor the






TORRINGTON 2000 Main St., 307.532.2181 MITCHELL, NE 1151 Broadway St., 308.623.1611



6/21/18 11:25 AM


Are you wondering...

What Exactly is Hot Air Ballooning Competition? You might ask yourself, why do balloons compete? What is the difference between just floating around and competitive flights? This article is for the curious contemplation about competitive ballooning. Since ballooning was invented in 1783, ballooning has been very competitive. Not in the sense we know today, but in terms of record setting. Hot Air Balloonists and Gas Balloonists have tried to surpass each other by setting records for bigger and better balloons, distance flights, and even who has flown the highest. Competitive ballooning as we know it today is very popular. Often people call competition ballooning “balloon races�. Well, racing has nothing to do with competitive ballooning. Let’s dive into what it means to compete in a hot air balloon. First, it is important to understand how the Nationals pilots were invited to attend US National Hot Air Ballooning Competition. They competed in all of 2018 accumulating points in events that were sanctioned by the Balloon Federation of America. The pilots with the top scores for the year are invited to compete in Nationals.


You will notice something different about the competition hot air balloon. It is football shaped for a reason. This shaped balloon provides more stability as the balloon quickly ascends and descends. Slicing through the many wind currents at different flight levels. Balloons can descend up to 1,500 ft a minute, this is called a terminal descent. Is it dangerous? No, these balloons are designed for this exact reason, competition. Why would a balloon need to do this for competition? Imagine a

large X on the ground, you are trying to fly to the X and score. The winds at one altitude are going north east, 200 feet lower the winds are going north west, and 200 feet below that directly north. In order to fly exactly to the X, you will have to fly at the altitude that will take you directly to the X. If you dally around in another flight altitude, the wind will blow you off course. So, your best plan is to fly to the X and then drop quickly to score by throwing your 2.5-ounce baggie in the center. Pilot skill is required to ride invisible air currents to find different wind directions that will take you to the desired goal. Winds can change every 100-200 feet and can change direction every few minutes. How can a pilot read the wind and wind speeds at different altitude levels? Using something called a pibal, which is a latex balloon filled with helium, the pilots read wind speeds with special equipment as the pibal ascends upward into the sky. They then input the information into a computer and come up with a graph of what the winds are doing approximately every 100 feet. This

information is used to navigate to the target or X on the ground. What happens if you touch the ground with your basket in the target area? You will receive penalty points and possibly disqualification for that target. Technology has completely changed the face of competitive ballooning. The pilots now use an onboard computer or I-pad to navigate with and use it to download the competition map. The map is key to determine what targets are in play for that day’s competition and to know what areas the pilot is prohibited to take off or land. Yes, targets plural! The pilot will be required to complete a series of “tasks” (some will be targets on the ground) up to eight per competition flight. A task can be a target on the ground, a virtual target in the air, or a pilot declared goal in which the pilot picks a predetermined location to fly to. There are 22 tasks that are possible to be put into play each day. The event organizer decides what tasks will be called each day depending on wind direction, wind speed, and weather predicted in the area. Balloon Federation of America along with a team of professionals determine the tasks to be called each day. They start at 3:00 a.m. each morning of the competition flights. They read the winds and wind speeds using the pibal method described above. They take into consideration the professional weather report from their meteorologist, along with the predetermined targets they have permission from land- owners to use. It is very secretive right up to the time when they call the pilots into the briefing room to give them their task sheet at 5:20 a.m. It is exciting to watch the pilot’s excitement as they plan their flight and where they will take off. They are required to take off one kilometer from the first target. So, you might see pilots taking off from aparking lot, dirt road, even back yard of some willing landowner. Pilots always ask permission to take off from or land on private land. Scores are tabulated from each target, points awarded

and then added up for each pilot to determine overall standings for each day. When the competition is completed on August 17th, the scoring team will tabulate the overall scores for the entire week and calculate the placement of each individual pilot. The last important ingredient for pilot competition success is their crew. Why is this so important? The crew is responsible for following the pilot in the chase vehicle when the pilot takes off. They must anticipate where the pilot is going to land and get ahead of him/her to be there in order to catch the basket in the case that they might experience a high wind landing, which can be dangerous if the crew is not there. The crew chief often helps the pilot navigate by telling him what the winds are doing on the surface. They communicate with the pilot via two-way radios. Their emotional support is paramount to successful launches and landings, not to mention the well being of the pilot. Get ready for an exciting week of competition!

If you would like more information about competition and the pilots attending this year, consider joining us for the Grand Opening Ceremonies, August 10th in Gering, behind the Gering Civic Center from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nationals pilots will be happy to answer your questions and give you some personal insight on competition.

Colleen Johnson Executive Director

Old West Balloon Fest


2822 Avenue I Suite A Scottsbluff, NE 69361 308-632-7561 Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC. Member SIPC.


Proud to Support...



PROUD TO SUPPORT OLD WEST BALLOON FEST Kendell Henderson, Agent Kendell Henderson Agency, Inc. 2001 Broadway Ste 1A, Scottsbluff (308) 632-8701

American Family Mutual Insurance Company, S.I. & its Operating Companies, American Family Insurance Company, 6000 American Parkway, Madison, WI 53783 007250 – Rev. 1/17 ©2017 – 10465447


To everyone at the Old West Balloon Fest, thanks for making this such a great event! From your friends at B & C Steel in Gering, Nebraska

(308) 632-6188



A brighter future, together.




Proud Sponsor of Old West Balloon Fest!



1926 Broadway |

Member Mem ber FD FDIC IC









Experience the Fremont Way!


#1 Location

For All Your Automotive Needs Active & Retired Military Discounts Available


Available For All Makes & Models & Excluding Synthetics

Offer Expires September 30, 2019

$ 26


Oil Change, (Up to 5 Quts of Semi Synthetic) Tire Rotation | 32 Multi Point Inspection Top Off All Fluids | Free Car Wash

Mon-Fri: 7:30am - 5:30pm; Sat: 9am - 3pm Quick Lane: Mon-Fri 8am - 6pm; Sat: 9am - 3pm


% Parts Special Offer Expires September 30s, 2019

Don’t forget our

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Welcome to the Monument Inn & Suites, Host Hotel for US Nationals Hot Air Balloon Pilots!



Proud to be the Propane Provider for the Old West Balloonfest


For Propane Sales & Service 1-800-658-4457

Welcome Balloonists!


Scottsbluff, Nebraska


Old West Balloon Fest would Like to Thank Gering Keno Committee for Supporting our Event

US Nationals Hot Air Ballooning Championships paid for in part by Gering Keno Funds



Dog Tag Jewelry and Hand-Stamped Cuffs

Accessorize your look wit h something unique! Introducing Kate Mesta Jewelry Kate Mesta Brand is most famous for their official military dog tag jewelry. Tags are designed using a variety of techniques – hand-painted, hand-stamped, or hand-embellished, or leather and inlaid artwork. Each piece is a true one-of-a-kind piece of art.

Shop our booth at these locations during the balloon fest weekend! • Balloon Launch - Aug 16 and 17 • Mitchell Craft Fair - Aug 17 • Night Glow - Five Rocks, Gering - Aug 17


4021 Avenue B | Scottsbluff, NE 69361 |





Your Local Hot Air Balloon Ride Company Serving Scotts Bluff County - Creating Life long Memories

Our seasonal daily Flights offer ever changing scenery including the Scotts Bluff National Monument, the Peaceful Rolling Nebraska Plains, North Platte River, and Wildlife as far as the eye can see! We welcome private parties as well as large groups. Every flight includes champagne celebration and light breakfast. To book your flight call (308) 225-0128






Thank You Village of Morrill Keno Funds for your support!


“WE go where you GO”

FAST AND FRIENDLY SERVICE *Construction site only units *Toilets on Wheels/Trailers *Handicap accessible *Special event toilets *Women only units ALL our units come standard with a hand sanitizer Give us a call at 308-635-2229


(Now servicing Wyoming)

Scottsbluff Body & Paint would like to welcome the Pilots and the Visitors to the

2018 Old West Balloon Fest.

1502 Circle Drive Scottsbluff, NE 69361 Ph (308)632-0839 • Fax (308)635-0574



The Mystique of the Belmont Tunnel By Kamie Stephen Star-Herald Over the years, the story of the Belmont train tunnel has been told and retold, but Erin Gallagher is telling it a little bit differently. “I’m fascinated with telling stories through my artwork,” said Gallagher, the artist behind this year’s Old West Balloon Fest poster. “I think that art is a powerful way to communicate with people and tell stories that encapsulate human experiences.”

“This was an important event for Scottsbluff and transformed a small settlement into a booming city center,” Gallagher said. Prior to the train line, the area was mostly occupied by homesteaders that claimed the land for cattle ranching and farming, she said. They had limited resources to survive the long winters and droughts.

The poster features a cowboy leaning on a train outside the tunnel, located between Crawford and Marsland, and an Areonaut looking down at him from a hot air balloon. Gallagher says the cowboy is a tribute to the first homesteaders whose lives were changed by the construction of the tunnel.

Balloon Fest Poster Artist Erin Gallagher

The tunnel was built by the Burlington and Quincy Railroad Company in 1888-89. More than 1,200 people worked on the project, which was dug at both ends; they earned 15 cents an hour. On average, they were able to dig three feet a day. “It is my intention in this piece to celebrate the workers who constructed the train line and tunnel,” Gallagher said. The tunnel was completed on August 17, 1889. This year’s Old West Balloon Fest will be celebrating the anniversary of its completion.

“When Scottsbluff connected to a major train line more goods became available and farmers were able to easily transport their perishable goods,” Gallagher said.

Gallagher said she deep dives into the subjects she’s going to paint and this year’s poster was no exception. After hours of researching, she used the information she learned to compose the image. Then, she made concept sketches and reference photos. “The two figures in the image are actually two of my brothers dressed up in vintage cowboy and aviator garb,” she said. Her friends and family members are in a lot of her work, she said. She normally rents or makes costumes, but in some cases, artists have to make due with what they’ve got.


Coloring Contest

Color the balloons shown below and enter our contest for a chance to win a prize basket of Hot Air Balloon Memorabilia (this page only). Fill in information on bottom of page and enter your colored “Hot Air Balloon� picture at either morning launch or the glow for a chance to win!! Open to all ages!

Name ___________________ Address ____________________ Phone ____________________



Profile for Star-Herald

Old West Balloon Fest 2019  

Old West Balloon Fest 2019