Go to Helen! Watch the Hot-Air Balloon Festival!

Maybe it all began the first time we watched The Wizard of Oz and we fell in love with Dorothy, Toto and that colorful balloon flying away from Kansas.  Recapture the romance in Helen, Georgia, at their hot-air balloon festival and long-distance race.

The best use for hot air — the hot air balloon festival in Helen, GA. ~ Photo by Robert Sutherland

What’s more daring than firing hot air into a balloon and ascending into the wild blue yonder?

Imaginative colors, shapes and sizes make each hot-air balloon festival unique and fascinating.

Yes, you can get a ride in one, but mostly when the balloons are tethered to the ground.  That’s less dangerous than flying hundred of miles toward the Atlantic, and you (probably) won’t end up in Oz.

The fun begins — weather permitting — on Thursday, May 31, 2018, around 7 AM, with “a mass ascension of approximately 30 bright and colorful hot air balloons in North Georgia’s Alpine Village.”

The weather doesn’t look too good for the beginning of the hot air balloon festival.  If it’s too windy or stormy, take-offs will postponed until the weather clears.  Saturday looks pretty good.

Check the Helen, GA, Balloon Festival Forecast Here

Never fly your hot air balloon too close to the sun. ~ Photo by Robert Sutherland

Flying in a hot air balloon is easy.  Steering one isn’t easy … unless you have invented the world’s first Wind Shifter.

Balloons (ready?) go in the same direction as the wind, and at the same speed.  Skilled pilots use propane heaters to inflate their crafts to go up.  Each balloon carries one 40-gallon tank, which lasts about four hours.  They open flaps to let air out and descend.

The balloons land and ground crews replenish the tanks.  ” If the crew is not there immediately with fresh tanks, valuable time is lost while the pilot and crew try to find each other.”

The Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race

The race begins in Helen.  The finish line is Interstate-95, anywhere between Maine and Miami.  The shortest distance is 225 miles and the race usually takes two days.  It has been done in one day, while some races have taken as many as four days.  The winner is the first person to cross I-95, or whoever is ahead at sunset on Friday, June 1, 2018.

Please Note: There are few pleasant ways down if you change your mind after take-off. ~~ Photo by Robert Sutherland

During the race to the Atlantic, local events with balloonists will delight everyone in the Alpine Village in the North Georgia Mountains.

Weather permitting, balloons will take to the winds around 6 PM on Friday and Saturday for an hour or two.

Want to get involved?

You might be able to help crews with inflation.  Chase crews often require some assistance.  Ask around, to see how you might lend a hand.

Or take someone special on a Diet Dr Pepper or champagne flight over the mountains.

Don’t worry.  Whatever goes up … must come down.  Somewhere.

The Helen Hot-Air Balloon Festival & Race to the Atlantic

About Author

Robert J. Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life in Gainesville, GA.
Robert has two adult daughters, seven practically perfect grandchildren and a zippy Kawasaki. Contact Robert at [email protected].

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