Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic canceled due to weather

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KRON) – The first day of the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic didn’t take off as planned, but pilots say part of the experience is sharing what they know about the hot air balloons with other people.

About 25 hot air balloon pilots lit their burners Saturday morning at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds, but there was no takeoff. Because of the weather, the pilots weren’t able to fly, but pilots like Mike Kijak say it’s about sharing the experience with others, “It’s not like other events stood behind the line…come talk to us, that’s the fun thing about it.

Dozens of people took the opportunity to take a tethered balloon ride. While others have had one-on-ones with pilots like Eileen Jones and learned what it takes to launch the giant balloons, “It’s the joy here to share it with such a large group.” Jones has been flying for 30 years. She says she can fly as high as any airplane pilot.

And when she flies up into the sky, it’s serene, “But every once in a while we have to do that, so it’s quite noisy but otherwise it’s so quiet up there that while you’re flying, you can hear people talking, you can hear dogs barking, you can hear chickens and roosters crowing.

Mateo Hernandez, another pilot, named his hot air balloon, El Gaio which means rooster in Spanish. It was his childhood dream to fly these balloons and he says he was never scared… well, almost never… “No, not at all… except now when I’m moving…”

While Hernandez and the other pilots didn’t officially take off on Saturday, they were hoping for another chance on Sunday. Unfortunately due to the wet forecast announced for tomorrow, the event had to be cancelled.