Battle Creek Field of Flight

July 3 - 7, 2019

Balloons

Hot-Air Balloon Launch Weather Criteria

Weather conditions must be almost "ideal" in order for a Hot-Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there is any sign of a potentially non-safe flight, then the launch will be CANCELED. Experienced Balloon Pilot, Jim Birk, serves as our Balloon Meister. He is very trusted in the ballooning world and he makes the decision on if a safe flight can be executed or not. In addition, launches are also at pilots discretion. Here is some weather information on ballooning flights:

  • Winds
  • Winds Aloft
  • Visibility
  • Rain
  • Fronts
  • Thunderstorms

Hot-Air Balloons are a type of aircraft that rely on basic scientific principles to fly. Warm air rises over cooler air, thus the balloon is able to rise when the burner is thrusted. To help balloons rise, we neef thermals to be absent or at low activity. These thermals are least prominent in the early morning, just after sunrise, and early in the evening (the reason why launches are scheduled between 6:30 AM and 8 AM & between 7 PM and 8:30 PM during the event).

Prior to flight, a "Piball" (or Pilot Balloon) will be released. This is a helium filled balloon that lets the pilots know the general direction of the wind. This is the way the pilots balloon will drift. Wind directions do change based on height (especially if a front is in the area) and pilots must rely on (and know the direction) of the winds aloft. A balloon must also be able to land once in the air so the decision for "Go" or "No Go" for launch must take both the takeoff, flight, and a safe landing into consideration.

This means that weather conditions must be almost "ideal" in order for a Hot-Air Balloon Launch to take place. If there is any sign of a potentially non-safe flight, then the launch will be CANCELED. Here is some weather information on ballooning flights.

  • Winds: Winds are obviously the most critical weather phenomena that effects balloons. Winds are the #1 reason that Balloon Flights are canceled. Balloons fly best with wind speeds ranging from 4 to 6 miles per hour. Balloons will never fly in winds higher than 12 mph. Strong winds can not only damage the balloon, but it can make a pilot overshoot a target, cause a hard landing and require more space for landing.
  • Winds Aloft: Winds aloft (or winds at higher altitudes) can also cause a flight to be canceled. There may be almost no wind at the ground, but at altitude, the wind may be blowing at 20 miles per hour. Winds aloft must also be taken into consideration when deciding whether to fly or not.
  • Visibility: Balloon Pilots operate under FAA VFR conditions. This means they must have a certain amount of visibility in order to be able to fly (which means NO NIGHT FLYING). Depending on flight location, the visibility must be AT LEAST 1 to 3 miles. For the most part, there will be NO flying in fog.
  • Rain: Balloons do not launch in the rain. Rain can damage the balloon and decrease visibility. Besides, would you want to fly in a Hot-Air Balloon in rainy weather?
  • Fronts: There must be no fronts in the area for a balloon launch to occur. Fronts usually come with a change in wind direction or increased wind speeds. If pilots can plan ahead for this, then it may be possible for a launch. But if the front will move through during time of flight, the launch must be canceled.
  • Thunderstorms: There must be NO thunderstorms within 100 miles of the launch point for a balloon launch to take place. Thunderstorms present hazards to any type of aircraft, but a balloon is the one aircraft that would be affected most by any type of weather condition. A lightning strike to a balloon is an extremely dangerous hazard. In addition, gust fronts can occur up to 100 miles in advance of a storm or line of storms, which could heavily impact a balloon. If the weather forecast calls for Severe Weather, it is a good bet that the balloons will NOT be launching at that time

With this basic understanding of conditions for Balloon Launches, we hope you understand why some flights during the event are canceled. You will now be able to know if a balloon launch is likely to occur or not just by checking the local area forecast for Battle Creek or W.K. Kellogg Airport, courtesy of Win 98.5. Also, remember that Launch Forecasts and Updates will be available on our FacebookTwitter and this website throughout the event.

Hot-Air Balloon Rides for Hire

BALLOON RIDES FOR HIRE

Contact these Balloonists for Paid Passenger Rides in Battle Creek, Michigan and the surrounding areas.

If they are participating in this year's hot-air balloon competition, they may not be available during the festival. NO PAID BALLOON RIDES ARE AVAILABLE DURING OUR EVENT/LAUNCHES!
BATTLE CREEK, MI
JACKSON, MI
  • Chuck Walz (Munith) 517-596-2621
LANSING, MI
  • Tom Bergeon (Mason) 517-676-1444
  • Ron Groce (Mason) 517-676-9657
ANN ARBOR, MI
  • Shawn Raya 248-969-4354
WAYLAND, MI
  • Rick Kerber 269-790-6020
INDIANA
  • Chris Smart (Huntington) 260-224-0251
OHIO
  • Jim Birk (Defiance) 614-579-2970

Final Balloon Competition Standings 2011 - 2018

2018 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings

  1. Rhett Heartsill - Texas Star Balloon Rhett Heartsill - Texas Star Balloon Rhett Heartsill - Texas Star Balloon
  2. Shawn Raya
  3. Joe Heartsill
  4. Aaron Foelske
  5. Jeff Pestun
  6. Jason Kimball
  7. Rob Nutting
  8. Christopher Cliver
  9. Steve Wilkinson
  10. Jeremy King

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2018!


2017 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings

  1. Jeff Pestun - Special Purpose Balloon Jeff Pestun - Special Purpose Balloon Jeff Pestun - Special Purpose Balloon
  2. Shawn Raya
  3. Aaron Foelske
  4. Al Nels
  5. Larry Coan
  6. Chris Smart
  7. Chris Cliver
  8. Dom Bereford
  9. Andrew Nels
  10. Steve Mitchell
  11. Rick Kerber
  12. Harold Cliver
  13. Jeremy King/li>
  14. Bret Christian
  15. Richard Parr

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2017!


2016 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings

  1. Joe Heartsill - Texas Racer Balloon Joe Heartsill - Texas Racer BalloonJoe Heartsill - Texas Racer Balloon
  2. Steve Mitchell
  3. Rhett Heartsill
  4. John Petrehn
  5. Joe Zvada
  6. Aaron Foelske
  7. Shawn Raya
  8. AJ Nels
  9. Rick Kerber
  10. Larry Coan

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2016!

2015 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings


  1. Joe Zvada - International Chicken Balloon Joe Zvada - International Chicken BalloonJoe Zvada 8660 International Chicken Balloon
  2. Johnny Petrehn 8567
  3. Jeff Pestun 8191
  4. Shawn Raya 8005
  5. Yudai Fujita 7997
  6. Steve Mitchell 7710
  7. Aaron Foelske 7602
  8. Susan Stamats 7001
  9. Jason Adams 6904
  10. Larry Coan 6812
  11. Christopher Cliver 6702
  12. Harold Cliver 6412
  13. John Gibbons 6224
  14. Guy Gauthier 6019
  15. Meg Skelton 5968

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2015!


2014 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings

  1. Johnny Petrehn 7185 Kodachrome Balloon
  2. Joe Heartsill 6559
  3. Chase Donner 6546
  4. Jeff Pestun 6373
  5. Shawn Raya 6372
  6. Joe Zvada 6304
  7. Yudai Fujita 6301
  8. AJ Nels 6210
  9. Chris Smart 6198
  10. Dominic Bareford 5616
  11. Jason Adams 5395
  12. Brandon Heavin 5326
  13. Larry Coan 5257
  14. Steve Mitchell 4999
  15. Jeremy Rubin 4978

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2014!


2013 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings

  1. Joe ZVADA, TX 7950
  2. Paul PETREHN, MI 7860
  3. Joe HEARTSILL, TX 7730
  4. Gary HEAVIN, TX 7590
  5. Nick DONNER, KY 7550
  6. Chris SMART, IN 7540
  7. Shawn RAYA, MI 7510
  8. John PETREHN, KS 7470
  9. Harold CLIVER, TX 7260
  10. Phil CLINGER, MI 7050
  11. Jeff PESTUN, MI 6950
  12. Yudai FUJITA, JPN 6880
  13. Chuck WALZ, MI 6860
  14. Rhett HEARTSILL, TX 6800
  15. Brandon HEAVIN, TX 6680

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2013!


2012 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings

  1. John PETREHN, KS 11178 
  2. Paul PETREHN, MI 10319
  3. Rhett HEARTSILL, TX 10039
  4. Nick DONNER, KY 9885
  5. Joe HEARTSILL, TX 9660
  6. Chris SMART, IN 9546
  7. Robert GONZALES, TX 9501
  8. Shawn RAYA, MI 8989
  9. Joe ZVADA, TX 8715
  10. Gary HEAVIN, TX 8711
  11. Jeff PESTUN, MI 8559
  12. Robert WATSON, MI 8368
  13. Andy BAIRD, MI 8321
  14. Jason ADAMS, ONT 8226
  15. Rick KERBER, MI 8007

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2012!


2011 Hot-Air Balloon Competition Final Standings

  1. Nick Donner IL 6704
  2. Chase Donner GA 6500
  3. Shawn Raya MI 6386
  4. Tom Roush TN 6364
  5. Larry Coan MI 6272
  6. Joe Heartsill TX 6182
  7. Paul Petrehn MI 6126
  8. Phil Clinger MI 5602
  9. Jeff Pestun MI 5557
  10. Roy Smith TN 5421
  11. Joe Zvada OH 5331
  12. Rhett Heartsill TX 5215
  13. Bret Christian IA 5172
  14. David Troutman KY 4943
  15. Jeff Sweet NC 4897

Congratulations and Thank You to all who participated in 2011!