Flight of the 40th Walla Walla Balloon Stampede

The 40th anniversary of the Walla Walla balloon stampede took flight today.

This was some people's first time seeing the balloons others have been coming since they were kids and a few even traveled across the globe to see the spectacle.

Emilio Luna spends most of his time in Malaysia but travels to Walla Walla this time every year for the spring wine release and balloon stampede.

"I've lived all over the world and traveled and when I came to Walla Walla it's so peaceful but yet there is enough to do, there is a lot of culture here the people are very nice and it just felt good," said Luna.

He said he is fascinated by the mechanics of how these massive balloons and baskets are lifted into the air.

"Being an engineer I'm fascinated by the hot air and how they go up and how they control them its just really neat," said Luna.

Walla Walla native Melissa Williams said she remembers coming to the balloon stampede as a kid and wanted to bring her son Huck this year.

"I was born and raised in Walla Walla and this is something I did with my family growing up and I was excited to come out here and see it this morning," said Williams.

Thirty-five balloons coverd the lawn at Howard Tietan park.

One by one they fired up and started to inflate.

First by a fan, then came the flames.

Dan Thiessen was also seeing the balloons for the first time.

He said it wasn't their size that surprised him, it was how graceful they look in the air but how loud they actually are up close.

"You watch them inflate and just the sound the gas going off is pretty cool. You might think they would be bigger but they are loud," said Thiessen.

This is pilot Phil Archey's fifth year flying in the Walla Walla Balloon Stampede.

He said because of the wind Walla Walla can sometimes be a tricky place to fly, but this is still one of his favorite balloon events because of the beautiful terrain and community.

"Just getting to meet local people and fly over local terrain. Walla Walla is a beautiful place. The amount of fields that are available to land in, the land owner relations are great, and just the general reception of the community is fantastic," said Archey.

The next launch is tomorrow at 6 a.m. at Harrison Middle School.

There is also one Saturday and Sunday morning and then the Balloon Night Glow Saturday night at Walla Walla Community College.

Event producer Scott Spencer said it is a good idea to get to the Night Glow early to get a good spot because it usually fills up quickly.

Local and Regional News

Photo Galleries

This Week's Circulars