Balloon Festival and Dentistry Meet

The Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival in High River has been a part of the fall events since 2013. My first-year volunteering and I’m hooked! 26 balloons entered in the festival. 9 competition balloons and 17 fiesta balloons (flying for fun). If I have to take a break from dentistry this was a fun thing to do instead!

I’m an Office Manager at the best dental office in High River, Signature Smiles and my day started a little different than usual. Instead of being at our regular dentistry briefing, I was a part of a pilot briefing, at 6:15 am! Paired with Shane Lockyer, the newest and I’m sure the youngest pilot (25 years old), and his balloon ‘Mariah’.

As we were helping get ready to launch, some pilots filled a latex balloon with propane to watch for wind speed and direction. We laid out the balloon and Shane hooked up the cables and burner. It takes 2 fans to fill the balloon with air.

The next stage for liftoff means we hold the balloon tight. As Shane is sitting in the basket, he points the burner into the mouth of the balloon and it immediately lifts into the air. We all help tip the basket up and the only thing holding the balloon down is 3 amazingly strong ladies and a tether to the truck! Shane blasts the burner on and off to seal the top vents, which must close tightly for flight, the balloon is unhooked and away ‘Mariah’ went!

The best part of the morning was seeing 26 balloons slowly drift across the center of town. With almost no wind they just hung in the air giving plenty of time for photos.

It’s amazing to see the precision of these pilots, it is similar to the precision I see in dentistry. Needing permission to land we head to the landowners home, who was so surprised to see ‘Mariah’ and grabbed her camera. Everyone had a safe landing!

As a tradition to celebrate a safe flight, we head to the Heritage Inn for a champagne and orange juice toast! I did it all over again the next morning. I crewed for a UK pilot, Martin, and his balloon named ‘Captain Jack’.

I think I will suggest to Dr. Vicki that the whole Signature Smiles Dental Team volunteers next year, put dentistry aside for a few hours and be a part of this awesome experience.

Office Manager
Signature Smiles Dentistry





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