The Page/Lake Powell Balloon Regatta

The Page/Lake Powell Balloon Regatta is held annually the first weekend of November. In 2013 over sixty hot air balloons took part, and over twenty participated in the street fair / balloon glow on Saturday night. Details on the event can be found at the balloon regatta's home page. There are morning launches on Friday and Saturday starting about 7:30. To photograph the launch and flights you should be there by sunrise when they start setting up the balloons.

Hot air balloons in the U.S. can only take off in winds of ten miles per hour or less by regulation. If wind speeds exceed this there is no point in going to the site as no launchings will occur. Note that in some countries balloons can take off in windy weather. In the US spectators are allowed to approach the balloons, and many balloonists will allow you to approach very closely. Even though balloons are typically tethered when they are being inflated, there are tremendous forces present. These forces can make approaching too closely dangerous as wind speed increases, so use good judgment and follow ground crew directions carefully. Help is needed in setting up and taking down the balloons and you can volunteer. Balloons do not normally take-off in the afternoon since wind speeds and gusts are normally higher in the afternoon than at sunrise. They also do not take off if there are thunderstorms within 50 miles of the launch site.

During the festival balloon takeoffs occur at a variety of locations in Page. I choose one at the field at the intersection of Lake Powell Boulevard and South Navajo Drive. There were many balloons taking off from there. Balloons also takeoff from the older golf course on the other side of 89. The balloon glow was held on Lake Powell Boulevard between North and South Navajo Boulevards.

Hot air balloon pilots have only limited control over where the balloon will land. In 2013 there were clear skies and light wind at all levels so the pilots had very little ability to control their landing spot. Good photographs can be taken when the balloon lands and is being deflated, so you should follow a balloon by car to its landing area. Pilots will try to land in a scenic area. I'm told the area near Antelope Canyon is a destination pilots try for but can only reach under good "pilot" winds.

Photography

 


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