Friday, July 29th, at dawn was the opening, pre-festival media launch of the 3 day, 29th Annual Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning held at Solberg Airport, 39 Thor Solberg Road in Whitehouse Station. At the pre-festival media launch, all photographers, whether professional, young hobbyist, or freelancer, had a free, unique window of opportunity to join the regular media and photograph the festival’s hot air balloons and their teams.
Unique photographic opportunities
Although Friday morning’s weather conditions did not permit a mass ascension, hoped for by all, the hot air balloons were able to rise aloft while remaining tethered. Several of the hot air balloon teams even offered free, tethered rides to the morning’s eager photographers. All attending photographers were welcomed at the pilot’s briefing held at dawn and then allowed onto the field. The photographers had several hours to shoot while hot air balloons were spread out, prepared for lift, inflated, and then floated skyward in tethered positions. The photographers and media hit the field, cameras out and ready, and the festival’s kickoff was a grand success.
Hot air balloons in colorful shapes and sizes
There are over 100 marvelous, hot air balloons participating in the 2011 New Jersey Balloon Festival. Among the eye catching balloon shapes are the Quick Check Farmhouse balloon sporting a farmer, farmer’s dog, and farm animals, a beautiful butterfly shape, a Pepsi Super Can, a Hersey Chocolate Air Delite, many striped balloons in a myriad of rainbow colors, a huge shark from Brazil, and wildly imaginative animal shapes. Mass ascensions are scheduled to occur twice daily at 6:30 am & 6:30 pm, but only if wind and weather permit.
America One, the US Flag Balloon owned by Barry and Teri DiLibero, was center field. America One is a 70 foot tall, 78 foot long, 30 foot wide American flag shape, and the DiLebros have participated in the NJ Balloon Fesitval for the past 10 years. Teri DiLibero indicates they’ve been to balloon festivals throughout the United States and even abroad in France. With a happy shake of her head, Terry indicates her husband went on a balloon ride in the 1990’s, simply loved the experience, and two weeks later, they had a hot air balloon in their garage!
Nick Mazzocchi from Annandale flies a hot air balloon named Midlife Crisis. With a grin, he points across the field at another balloon that belongs to his daughter, Sally Mazzocchi. Sally’s balloon is named QuarterLife Crisis. Both Flying Mazzocchis are FAA-licensed, commercial LTA pilots, fly out of Solbert Airport, and have participated in the NJ Balloon Festival for years.
A family affair for all
Clearly, the NJ Balloon Festival is a family affair, both for the hot air balloonists and the festival attendees. The unique NJ Balloon Festival extends throughout the weekend. There will be fireworks, concerts, hot air balloon glows, a dawn yoga demonstration, a 5K Run, Red Bull Air Force Skydive and Wingsuit events, Cannon Lady Jennifer Smith, arts and crafts exhibits, amusement rides, and food tents.
Experience the pre-festival media launch through a slideshow
The attached slideshow offers a pictorial view of the 2011 New Jersey Festival of Ballooning’s Friday morning, pre-festival media launch of hot air balloons. The images bring you into the fun of that unique, photographic access and experience.
Schedule and directions
A full schedule of events for each weekend day and ticket information are online. Specific directions and a festival map are available. Onsite parking will be offered for $5 at Solberg Airport. Additionally, from noon on Saturday and Sunday, the festival runs a free shuttle bus from nearby Raritan Valley Community College located at 118 Lamington Road, Branchburg, NJ.