Freedom Flight: Just say 'colorful'

Friday, October 15, 2004

Can you say, "colorful"? City editor Gloria Masoner had it right when she noted that Southwest Nebraska will be a colorful place this weekend.

Not only are leaves reaching the peak of their fall colors, but anyone who appreciates beautiful sights will have a special treat over the three days of the annual High Plains Freedom Flight balloon rally.

The golds, yellows, greens and reds of leaves will be joined by a full rainbow of colorful ripstop nylon against the blue sky, white clouds and yellow sun.

T oday threatened to be a little too windy for comfortable flights, but Saturday and Sunday show much more promise.

At least 15 balloons are expected to take part, with more possible, according to coordinator and longtime aeronaut John Kugler of McCook.

Liftoffs are expected about 8:15 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and again 8:15 a.m. Sunday.

But don't hold the pilots and crews to a strict schedule. If it's too windy, they might not fly at all. But if conditions are favorable, they might lift off early, or even tonight.

Keep and eye on the forecast, come early, allow plenty of time, and make sure you have fresh batteries in your film or digital camera.


t's hard to get a bad photo of a balloon, but here are a few tips from the experts:

* Keep the sun at your back if possible.

* Don't bother with a flash, unless you want to photograph someone's face with balloons in the background.

* Use a zoom lens if possible, for great wide-angle photos and telephoto settings to bring the balloons together.

* When shooting many balloons in one photo, try to get one larger one in the foreground as a focal point, with others in the background.

* Look for the unusual angle -- every shot doesn't have to be a eye level. Lie on the ground or squat at a low angle to emphasize the size of the balloons, or shoot straight up as they ascend.

* Besides great colors, look for balloons with funny designs, slogans, crews in action during the inflating process, and great shots of propane flame.

Most of all, have fun and enjoy the sights.

And, if you see John Kugler, Chamber of Commerce members, balloon sponsors or any of the dozens of volunteers who make the High Plains Freedom Flight possible, be sure to tell them "thanks."

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