Annual flight more than hot air

By Geoff Lee

June 29, 2017 12:00 AM

BREEZY The RE/MAX balloon was airborne for the 26th time over Lloydminster, this time to raise awareness for the Wounded Warriors project. SUBMITTED PHOTOS

Up, up and away—but not too far away.
This year’s 26th annual RE/MAX hot air balloon flight over the city of Lloydminster last Sunday morning didn’t travel as far as previous flights due to near windless conditions.
“Fortunately, we lucked out that there was no wind,” said Lloydminster RE/MAX Realtor, Michael Dewing, the day after the 30-minute flight.
“We launched it from the Bishop Lloyd school parking lot, and we landed just north of the Home Depot.”
Dewing said in past years, they launched from the Rolling Green Fairways area and flew over the city to land on east end.
“But because yesterday was so calm, we knew we wouldn’t get all the way across the city, so we launched from the middle of the city and landed on the edge of town,” said Dewing.
The purpose of the balloon flight was to raise awareness for the upcoming Wounded Warriors weekend, July 27-31.
Lloydminster will welcome veterans, reservists and first responders challenged by physical or mental wounds from military conflicts or duties, for a weekend of healing and relaxation.
Event organizers Ryan Ference, second vice-president of Royal Canadian Legion Branch 39 and an army reservist, and Richard Dixon, a military veteran were the two passengers on this year’s piloted balloon ride.
Dewing said historically, the company has sent up a client every year in the balloon in a show of appreciation, but the last couple of years they’ve been switching it up a little bit.
“We’ve been sending some dignitaries, and this year we choose the Wounded Warriors group, namely to provide some support for what they have going on, not necessarily us,” he said.
The Wounded Warriors Weekend Fundraiser held earlier this year raised more than $20,000 to fund the cost for about 120 veterans through their foundation.
The balloon ride was a visual reminder that Wounded Warriors Weekend is a way to help troops from all over North America kick back with multiple activities on tap, including golfing, fishing and a banquet.
Dewing said RE/MAX books the balloon once a year, six months in advance with weather conditions a crap shoot on the day of the flight.
“We can usually get the early morning flight up; it’s usually fairly calm, but the rest of the day we never know what’s going to happen,” he said.
“We got our flight in, and it was a good one.
“They were up as high as I’ve every seen them go up just to try and find a breeze.”

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