Volunteer information and an
application can be downloaded using the link below.
Application (77 kb PDF)
Are you crewing this year? Here's
a handy guide with tips for crew members. (19 kb PDF)
You will need
Adobe Reader to view and print PDFs.
Reader is available as a free download from Adobe.
Volunteer inquiries should be sent to Shelly Perri.
On the “Lighter Side”
Launching the Gentle Giants
by Larry Ratkoviak
It is that time of year when the Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic starts preparing for their yearly event. This year’s event will take place June 16–17, 2012, when the skies over Windsor light up at sunrise with all the colors of the spectrum and the traffic stops for that “Kodak moment,” when the cool early morning breezes carry the aroma of fresh brewed coffee, pancakes, eggs and bacon through the air, and for a short time as the sun continues to rise the spectacle consumes our frustrations and concerns of daily life.
Most people in the ballooning community know very well who the most important people are who make it all happen. Of course, I am talking about balloon crews and volunteers. That is no surprise to veteran pilots!
The pilot’s reward is the exhilaration of anticipation, the liftoff, the flight, the beauty of the earth from a unique vantage point. The crew has the satisfaction of participating in another safe, well-executed flight. Oh, I almost forgot… The crew also gets to fold up tarps, load up equipment, drive the chase vehicle, and communicate with the pilot, among many other tasks inherent to this “wild and whacky” sport.
Why do they do it? Who are these people? A strange breed they must be. They include prospective pilots. They are thrill seekers who want their adventure by association. They are adventurers who would scratch, kick and bite if you suggest they fly. They are all of this and more. But above all they are responsible, hard-working, loyal individuals who can be counted on to show up at what most people think is an ungodly hour. They are friends. Sometimes they are spouses or significant others, who get up early, frequently on their day off, to work hard, get dirty and sweaty, drink hot coffee, eat stale doughnuts, and after the flight, choke down greasy hard salami, crackers and cheap champagne. They are ambassadors on the ground. The crew and their demeanor have and always will be the keystone of our flight operations, whether it would be a commercial flight for hire, a fun flight or a competition flight. On a commercial flight, they entertain the passengers who have not yet flown as well as those who have. On a fun flight they laugh, joke around and react to each moment the morning brings. During a competitive flight they’re worth their weight in gold. In any event, local crews are invaluable and much appreciated, especially when one’s regular crew cannot attend. Only a hug from your mother delivers more confidence than when you have a dependable and competent crew. This is truly a luxury, especially in ballooning, where poetry in motion and serenity are the key words.
Other unsung heroes are the event volunteers, who get up early to welcome the advancing crowds and smile. They often appear days ahead of time and continue on long after the fun has ended. Like gladiators, they are relentless in their efforts to make the event a success. And if ever there exists a doubt, one needs only to observe the thrill and excitement in a child’s eyes or the change in expression on a troubled face as the gentle giants are inflated, unfold and emerge into a kaleidoscope of color against a crystal clear morning sky. And even if just for the moment, the world becomes a better place.
You too can become an integral part of this sensational and fun-filled experience as a volunteer or crew member by attending crew training in June, 2012, at 7:00 AM at Keiser Park. Please contact our Crew/Volunteer Coordinator Shelly Perri. Download the sign-up form at the top of this page.