|Local realtor Walter Leap is chairing a committee currently updating pilot maps for the expected 30-50 hot air balloon pilots who will compete in the Ohio Challenge hot air balloon event August 1,2,3, 2003 in Middletown, Ohio.
Leapís Landowner Relations Committee will be verifying with owners of area property their willingness to allow hot air balloon pilots to launch the aircraft from their property and/or land there during the event. Property owners who wish to host the 15-30 minutes of activity on their property during the event are asked to contact Leapís office at 513-425-7010.
According to Leap, balloon launch sites need not be much larger than a backyard, but must be free of dangerous obstructions such as high tension electrical lines. Since balloons rise vertically, there is no need for runway space. A space accessible from the roadway for the balloon chase vehicle and balloon trailer and large enough to stretch out the deflated balloon is adequate.
Properties with 2-3 acres of accessible space are popular when several balloon pilots want to launch from the same location to take advantage of favorable winds blowing toward their target site.
Each balloon is followed by its own chase crew who are needed at the landing site to help pack up the deflated balloon and basket.
Leap and his daughter, Utawna Leap who served on the Landowner Relations Committee during the U.S. National Hot Air Balloon Championships held in Middletown during the early 90ís, will lead a group seeking take off and landing sites in a 5-10 mile radius of the Smith Park event site in downtown Middletown.
They would like to arrange as many sites as possible before the event begins to allow pilots many options when they choose their launch and landing sites for each of the five flights to be held during the three day event. However, the standard signal to a hot air balloon pilot that he or she is welcome to land on a particular property remains the bedsheet spread on the ground. Pilots always look for those signals to designate a friendly landing spot.
A combined, public/private project, the Ohio Challenge will bring together government, business, non-profit groups and individuals working together for the good of the total community.
Early major sponsors include:
- AK Steel Foundation
- Middletown Community Foundation
- Bank One NA
- City of Middletown
Hosted by the Mid-Miami Valley Chamber of Commerce, the Balloons in Middletown organizing committee members are: Balloon Event Chairman David Pearce, Senior Vice-president of Bank One, NA; Balloon Event Vice-Chair Dan Sack who is also Chamber Board Chairman and owner of The Fourth R of Southwestern Ohio; David Daugherty, Chamber president; Dr. Mark Frazer, Summit Family Physicians and hot air balloon pilot; Emily Harris, Chamber event director; Perry Thatcher, Ample Industries and City of Middletown Council member; James Wannemacher, ACF Mortgage and hot air balloon pilot; and Ann Mort, Good News Magazine.
Anyone who wishes to be involved in the planning or production of the event is asked to contact Emily Harris, Chamber balloon event director, at 513-422-4551.