Hot air balloon pilots prepare for incoming heat - KPTV - FOX 12

Hot air balloon pilots prepare for incoming heat

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The Portland metro area is bracing for a major heat wave this weekend and organizers with the Festival of Balloons are preparing for the rising temperatures.

Temperatures are expected to linger in the 90s on Friday and Saturday before possibly reaching up to triple-digit temperatures on Sunday.

Several hot air balloon pilots took to the skies from Cook Park in Tigard early Thursday morning to test the balloons against the heat.

Pilots must pay close attention to temperatures and weather conditions before hot air balloon flights. Excessive heat can be dangerous if not monitored closely.

Laura Hancock is the balloonmeister for this year’s Festival of Balloons. The balloonmeister’s job is to coordinate all flight activities during balloon events and monitor meteorological patterns and security precautions.  

“There’s a certain temperature that balloons can peak at that starts to break the fabric down,” said Hancock. “It doesn’t make a hole or melt but it loses its integrity, its ability to hold air.”

Hancock said depending on the temperatures during the morning launches this weekend, pilots may need to launch earlier and shorten their flights.

“The hotter it is in the morning or the more weight you’re carrying, the lighter you have to keep your balloon to keep it safe,” she said.

Organizers are asking those planning on attending the festival to bring extra water and take breaks in the shade if possible.

The Festival of Balloons will take place at Cook Park Friday through Sunday. Launches begin at 5:45 a.m., weather permitting. Learn more at   

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