By CATHY MOUNCE
Register Staff Writer
The second annual “Sky’s The Limit” balloon spectacular held September 13-15 benefiting the North Texas Medical Center (NTMC) Foundation raised over $120,000 despite windy conditions prohibiting some spectacular balloon launches.
The Foundation’s community outreach and development director Kristi Rigsby said that the event far surpassed last year’s attendance.
“We had just over 11,900 people attending the event over the three days,” she said. “Last year we only sold 8,000 tickets.”
Rigsby said that they had planned many other events during the weekend just in case windy conditions duplicated the 2012 wind difficulty.
According to the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) wind is the most critical factor in safe ballooning as it can effect every phase of a flight. More balloon flights are canceled due to wind than for any other reason. Balloons fly best in light and stable winds of four to six miles per hour. When winds are approach 10 miles per hour, it is almost impossible to fill the balloon. The wind caves in the side of the balloon and it will roll around, sometimes violently. It can carry trailers and handlers across fields.
“The wind reached nine miles per hour so at the discretion of the pilots, it was best not to fly,” Rigsby said.
However Rigsby and the Foundation planned other activities to keep the crowds entertained.
“Last year we had only twelve vendors,” Rigsby continued. “This year we had over 40 merchandise vendors setting up booths for the event.”
The Cavanaugh Flight Museum from Addison Airport was on hand thrilling the crowd with their vintage flying “War Birds” air show.
Helicopter rides were also available.
Children were not forgotten this year and a “Kidz Zone” complete with a robotics horse, bucking bull and fish were available for kids to ride.
The “Champaign and Propane Ball” for sponsors and special guests was a sell out complete with a catered meal and ice sculpture designed with the Foundation logo.
Morrison Food Service donated their services to the Foundation and flew in 16 chefs from all over the country to not only cater the ball but also provided meals for pilots and volunteers for free during the weekend activities.
“We could not put this event on without our sponsors and volunteers. We had a great group of volunteers this year but of course we can always use more and I hope that everyone will come back again next year and bring a friend,” Rigsby laughed.
Money from the balloon festival benefits the NTMC Foundation and NTMC in many ways. Most recently a much needed blood cleansing machine stopped working and funds from the balloon event will be used to replace this equipment.
“The Foundation is able to replace or upgrade equipment that the hospital needs. These are items that are not covered in the NTMC budget,” Rigsby said.
“We are thrilled with the turnout this year and are already anticipating next year’s event. We have received such positive feedback and we are looking forward to our third “Sky’s The limit” balloon spectacular."
Next year’s event is scheduled for September 12-14, 2014.
By CATHY MOUNCE
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