Amazing Hot Air Balloons Return to Boise for Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic 2023
It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Boise! No, not Christmas. The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic! Hot air balloons have returned to the Boise skyline for the 32nd Annual Scott Spencer Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.
Pilots couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day for the first launch of the year on Thursday, August 31! Thursday’s “Media Day” launch is an optional flight day for pilots participating in our event, but more than 30 pilots decided to take advantage of the gorgeous summer morning. Many of them used this morning’s wind conditions to navigate their way toward Quinn’s Pond to do something called a “splash and dash.” That’s when the pilots briefly dip their baskets in the water before ascending again.
As long as conditions continue to cooperate you can look forward to three more mornings of balloons over Boise as well as the Night Glow Spectacular on Friday evening. Morning launches start around 7:20 a.m. at Ann Morrison Park. In addition to the morning launches, these are some highlights of Boise’s best FREE community event.
Night Glow Spectacular
Live music, food trucks and vendors begin Friday, September 1 at 5:30 p.m. with the actual Night Glow performance scheduled to begin around 8:05 p.m. During the Night Glow, the balloons don’t leave Ann Morrison Park. Instead, 16 pilots will inflate their balloons and fill the night with color to musical cues. Essentially, the balloons turn into 75’ tall Chinese lanterns! It’s one of the best photo-ops of the entire week!
If you do want to see a hot air balloon fly in the dark, plan on getting up REALLY early on Saturday or Sunday morning. During Dawn Patrol, some pilots will take off in the dark. They’ll stay in the air until after sunrise when it’s light enough to locate a proper landing sight. These launches happen around 6 a.m., weather permitting.
The Last Dance
This is by far our favorite launch of the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic. Typically during the last daylight launch on Sunday morning, the pilots will inflate their balloons at the same time and try to clear the balloon field in under two minutes. To see all those balloons go up in the air at the same time is absolutely magical! Again, this launch happens weather permitting.
Photos from the Air
We got the opportunity to fly with Max Moerles, in the Air Howler balloon on Media Day! This particular balloon got its name because Max’s dog howls every time it sees a balloon. He added the music notes to the balloon because it was cuter than just a silhouette of a dog howling.
Max grew up in Boise and loves making the trip from Florida back to his hometown for the Spirit Boise. He led the way in developing a new technology that allows pilots to use drones to capture real-time winds at their launch sites, which can help pilots make a safe “fly” or “don’t fly” decision on flight days.
We were very close to landing in the neighborhood he grew up in, but wind conditions decided to push us out toward Ustick for our landing. On media day, we were one of the first balloons to reach Quinn’s Pond for a splash and dash and got to high-five a kayaker. You’ll see them in this gallery of breathtaking photos we caught during our flight today!