Pilots operate hot air balloons in Lufkin despite extreme heat
LUFKIN, Texas (KTRE) - The Junior Achievement of Angelina County held their first balloon fest in Lufkin on Saturday.
With concerns of extreme heat, the pilots believe temperature makes a difference in how the balloons lift. Pat Harwell said he’s been a hot air balloon pilot for 33 years. He said his wife was the first female pilot in Louisiana, and he was her crew chief. They both fell in love with flying hot air balloons.
“We truly enjoy it, and everybody with us enjoys it,” said Harwell.
Handling the balloons can be a bit difficult in extreme heat, but these pilots have their way of staying cool.
“We switch off different pilots because it’s so hot, and also we drink a lot of water, and we keep an eye on our crew because they’re working very hard,” he said.
Harwell also said there’s a list of items they check before going into the air.
“We go through a routine of checkpoints. We check our fuel lines. We check our pilot’s lights. We check our burners. We check our balloon envelopes and baskets. All our people, we check our tie-down ropes,” said Harwell.
He said from there, they are all set to enter the air.
“Once we start going up and down, it’s really just paying attention to what’s happening,” said Harwell.
Another hot air balloon pilot, Mark Hunt, said he’s been flying for 20 years. He said the extreme heat makes a difference in how much weight he can lift.
“When you’re flying across town, it’s different because you got a light breeze at times when you’re moving through the air,” said Hunt.
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