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By Aloha Pettit Schaefer
September 9, 2002
Herald and News

Balloonists allowed to fly

ALTURAS -- Last September, as terrorists attacked the United States, people in Modoc County felt somewhat secure in their isolated corner of the world.

But reality quickly took hold as the Federal Aeronautics Administration grounded all aircraft. The impact was especially felt in Alturas, where the Alturas Chamber of Commerce was readying for its 12th annual Hot Air BalloonFest that weekend. Some of the balloonists had all ready arrived.

The balloonists and chamber officials were surprised, and disappointed, to learn the FAA ruling included hot air balloons. Sponsors were signed up and rides sold.

Eventually, the FAA agreed to permit tethered flights up to 50 feet.

It was disappointing, but better than nothing.

A year later, the chamber is working to make this weekend's 13th annual Hot Air BalloonFest the best yet.

Activities begin Saturday and Sunday with a pancake breakfast both days at 6 a.m. behind the Modoc Middle School. The balloons will lift off from the school launching site later in the morning.

This year's BalloonFest is being combined with weekend-long festivities at the third annual Migratory Bird Festival.

Following Saturday morning's launchings, exhibits, displays, vendors, workshops, silent auction and children's activities will be offered at Veterans Memorial Park in Alturas. A barbecue and live music will be offered at 4 p.m.

Sunday, again after the early morning breakfast and launchings at the middle school, guided tours of the "Birds of the Forest" will be offered at the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge along with the Canyon Creek and Larry Osborne ranches.