Quad Cities Balloon Festival dazzles despite winds

Winds keep balloons on ground but they still stand up

By Carie Kuehn | ckuehn@whbf.com

Published 09/23 2016 11:18PM

Updated 09/23 2016 11:18PM

The 8th Annual Quad Cities Balloon Festival wowed residents in East Moline Friday night, despite the winds. 

"Too much wind, and particularly in this area it's which direction you're going to fly," said Balloon Meister Darrell Day, talking about the weather conditions that would put a hold on launching hot air balloons.  "We don't want to fly right down the middle of the cities with anymore than one or two knots of wind otherwise the guys can't find anyplace to land in town."

The wind may have kept balloons on the ground, but the pilots still set up the balloons for a colorful display at the Rock Island Fairgrounds. 

The pilots have a hard time putting into words what it's like to get a bird's eye view on the world.

"Once you get into it and do it the first time, you're hooked," said commercial pilot Greg Saul. 

"It's when you're up there, it's like floating on a cloud. The only thing you hear in your burner," said Day.

"It's so different up there. I mean everything is so clean and perfect and beautiful up there it's just totally different than anything you'll experience," said Saul. 

After the balloons stood up and the sun went down, the fairgrounds lit up with pilots lighting their balloons. It was all to give those on the ground a beautiful experience. 

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