My name is Lily Myrick. I am 15 years old and have been ballooning since I was 10. Before then I had always admired the balloons from a distance. I can remember waking up in the morning around the balloon festival time and running outside to look at the sky with all the hot air balloons. At school when we would have the pilots come with their hot air balloon to talk to us, I would be so excited because I thought they were so engaging.
In September of 2014, my grandma, Mary Myrick, took me to the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival. I was 10 years old and had never been in a hot air balloon before. As my grandma and I were walking around she ran into a coworker from Barrick, Ashley Majors. As they talked, Ashley introduced herself to me and asked if I would like to go up in the hot air balloon. I shook my head excitedly and she walked me over to the pilot Donna Engdahl. As we went up I was in total astonishment. It was as if I had just had my first balloon ride, but this was tethered so it counted as my first tethered ride. When I was up in the balloon Donna let me hit the “dragon” as she called it; which was the burner. There were other kids in line so of course, I had to get down and let the line dissipate. I went up multiple times that day and fell in love with ballooning.
Finally, Donna was running low on propane so it was time to pack up the balloon. I was allowed to help the crew pack up. The Acme Balloon crew was one of the nicest, funniest, and most welcoming crews I’ve ever crewed with. The process at first was confusing but everyone was explaining and helping me understand what certain words and things meant. After we had packed up the envelope, which is the balloon, we did one of my favorite things on this day. Buns on! Some pilots do it and some don’t; some have different things that they call it. It is where the envelope is in a bag and the bag gets tied. To get the air out a few crew members circle up around the bag. You hop up and plop down on the bag. You sit there for a few minutes and then put the bag in the trailer. The crew and pilot circled up around my grandma and I. They brought out a red hat that read Acme Balloon Team and said: “Welcome to the Acme Balloon team.” I was so excited and happy. Since that day I’ve had a love for ballooning.
The next year around Valentine’s Day I got my first actual balloon ride (free flight) in Lovelock, Nevada. My pilot was Jim Campbell. He was very funny but stern about things. That is how you need to be as a pilot when you are instructing your crew and have passengers. Once we set the balloon up it was time to fly off. I got the rundown of what to do and what not to do. I had so many emotions it was like a hurricane. I was excited, happy, curious, and many other things. However, I wasn’t scared or second-guessing my choices. I was ready. We went up and a few minutes into the flight, aside from us seeing jackrabbits, I saw a dozen or two peacocks. I was amazed and told the passengers and Jim where they were. Actually flying was such a satisfying and beautiful experience.
In 2017 I went to the High Sierra Balloon Camp to get more experience with balloons and to learn more about them. It was one of the best opportunities I’ve ever had. I got to ride a hopper, which is similar to a balloon. It has the envelope (balloon), one propane tank, one burner, the ropes you need, a seat, and a seatbelt. You are also supposed to wear a helmet to keep your head from burning. You sit in the seat that is strapped to the propane tank and get buckled up. As you go up, your feet and legs dangle. It was full of excitement. I bonded with several of the other campers and it gave me more people to talk about ballooning with. It was upsetting when it was time for everyone to part and go home. I am getting the chance to go again and I can’t wait. I know that the experience will be amazing and full of fun. It will give me more knowledge of ballooning that I will need since I am able to get my student pilot license. Ballooning is a big part of my life and allows me to see wondrous things from above. Thank you for reading my article.
- Lily Myrick