The Great Reno Balloon Race has finally returned – and better than ever – with its 40th anniversary this year.
The event took place September 11-12 with the magnificent glow shows, the classic mass launch moment, merchandise for days and a special September 11 appreciation. The event was free and each year it’s one of the best events the Reno community has to offer.
“From its humble beginnings in 1982 with just 20 balloons, the Great Reno Balloon Race has taken off with up to 100 balloons each year. The idea was to create an event that would keep visitors in town on the weekend between the State Fair and the Reno Air Races and 39 years later it is known as a world famous and locally well-known community tradition. loved ”, according to the GRBR website.
Due to the high number of pandemics in 2020, the race was canceled, but now the organization is back with “up to 100 other balloons” competing in races.
This year’s event seemed to fill people’s hearts as the Reno community reopened for the annual tradition over the weekend.
The GRBR also organized a special preview day on September 9, specifically for the media to come for their first hot air balloon flight.
As the Arts and Entertainment Editor-in-Chief of The Sagebrush, the opportunity to join one of The Sagebrush’s photographers, Rachel Jackson, on a hot air balloon trip through Reno’s skies has been offered and will not be just couldn’t be missed. Our pilot, Sheldon Grauberger, told all of his passengers that he had never been injured in the balloon.
“I’ve been a pilot for about 18 years and have done it over 3,600 times,” Grauberger told The Sagebrush. “I have never had a scratch on my basket, and I have a perfect safety record.”
Once the balloon was ready to go, it took off from the college quad and encountered the other race balloons at the same sky level.
In Grauberger’s initial flight of the day, he had two passengers from the associate students of the University of Nevada, Reno. One of the runners, ASUN vice president Keegan Murphy, told The Sagebrush the best part was seeing the campus and peaceful skies.
“It wasn’t bad at all, it was very slow too. You don’t feel as high as you really are. Murphy said.
After the passengers and pilot randomly landed in the Reno Gospel mission, Rachel and I hopped into the little wicker basket, chatting with the previous passengers, before we ran out of fuel and took off.
As we started to fly over the community of Reno, we watched the other hot air balloons in the race start to land. The different shapes and colors of the hot air balloons were gorgeous to see, ranging from the American flag, a unicorn, a frog, a Smokey Bear figure and a few other creative designs.
Watching balloons float so high beside you as you drift through the air is one of the most exhilarating sensations in the world. It is a little disappointing, however, you are scared on the way up, but it is very peaceful when you are in the sky. It’s no wonder most people put this type of trip on their bucket list.
During the flight, watching the pilot move so meticulously, regularly turning on the propane, knowing exactly when we needed wind changes, and knowing when we needed to be sent higher was surprisingly impressive. It was a wonder what had pushed him to start piloting, because it seemed so natural to him.
Grauberger told The Sagebrush: “Ever since I was little I wanted to do this. I didn’t know I could be a pilot. Then, on their tenth wedding anniversary, his wife surprised him with a trip to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the Annual Balloon Fiesta takes place.
Grauberger’s wife opened up a whole new world to him. He currently flies to Lake Tahoe Balloons, where he gets on and off boats in Tahoe and flies over the lake for a great view of the Tahoe area. It’s a dream job, of course, and he says he’s grateful to be paid.
As the flight descended, the landing was smooth, slow and steady, as the “balloon hunters”, the people who followed the balloon to its random landing site, told us about it. met at the bottom.
We took pictures and even popped a bottle of apple cider and champagne. Grauberger gathered his crew and passengers together, telling the story of the original hot air balloon and explaining why it is traditional to pop a bottle of champagne after a successful flight.
Grauberger told the classic story of the first hot air balloon flight in 1783 in the gardens of Versailles.
“There were two brothers, the Montgolfier brothers, whose father owned this paper business and they were playing with paper and fire…” said Grauberger.
The brothers eventually came up with the idea of making a larger paper lantern that could float a human, hence the creation of the hot air balloon.
Once they created the hot air balloon, they first tested it with animals. After that, the king offered champagne to everyone in Versailles as they made some of his relatives fly in the sky.
A few mishaps occurred when the balloon took them away from France, forcing them to land where people had never seen a balloon before. Thinking they were aliens, they tried to shoot them down.
Once the passengers finally landed safely, they told the king and he offered them the best bottle of champagne he had to show people they were flying over the next time they were humans.
“He told them to hang it up to show them because only humans have French champagne. And if you want people to help you, not hurt you, you give them champagne! Grauberger said, before raising a toast to his crew and runners.
Once everything calmed down, the group took pictures, and we even had a few stray kids watching us land who jumped into the basket to take pictures with the pilot.
Grauberger had expected to do the dawn patrol for the GRBR event. However, due to bad weather conditions, the event was canceled on Friday morning.
On Saturday morning, the event continued wonderfully. With clear skies and light winds, everyone in the Reno area came out to take photos and be a part of the annual event.
Jaedyn Young can be contacted at [email protected] or on Twitter @ jaedyn_young3.