Contributed By Katie Krenka

One Friday morning in July my family and I were treated to a morning we won’t soon forget!  We attended media day for the Ruby Mountain Balloon Festival, held annually the last weekend of July, and it didn’t disappoint.  We were assigned to ride with pilot Pat Irwin, with 21 years of experience piloting under his belt, and by the end of the morning we had a made a friend for life.  His hot air balloon is named the Patriot, a beautiful red white and blue balloon. We had the pleasure of Pat teaching us how to crew for a hot air balloon with set up, launch and, storing of the balloon and while in between we got a beautiful and unique view of our town from the air.  We learned so much as we crewed our first hot air balloon. One important thing being was why balloons always launch so early in the morning-and that air temperature effects the lift of the balloon and the warmer it is the harder it is to get off the ground.  We had an amazing ride with Pat launching from the parking lot of Johnny Appleseed park, touring the high school and the freeway from the sky before landing in the street next to the Aspen Way Post Office. Forever in my memory will be the anticipation and complete shock that we were witnessing in the faces of the construction workers watching us as we hovered to land in the street. 

My favorite part of the entire morning was the champagne and sparkling cider toast to commemorate our flight and the words of Pat that the best part of ballooning are the smiles and happiness it allows him to share with others.  I know when my husband and I think back on this experience it will always bring a smile for us.


Pat Irwin – Pilot

Rise to the Occasion Balloon Company

The Patriot