The Fifth Annual Mesquite Hot Air Balloon Festival was held on Jan. 23 and 24 with spectacular sights of 37 colorful balloons taking flight.
One of those balloons belongs to new part-time residents of Mesquite, Ingrid and Steve Martell and is piloted by Ingrid. The Martell’s balloon is named Obsession, a name appropriately given due to the way the Martells feel about ballooning.
Their ‘Obsession’ began the minute Ingrid took to the air in her first balloon ride over the Prosser Reservoir in CA in 2001. Ingrid said, “We had plans in the works to purchase our own balloon before we even touched back down on the ground.”
Ingrid has now been piloting balloons since 2002 and is more than willing to share her passion with others, especially children. The Martells have an out-of-commission balloon they take to the elementary schools to cold inflate for the children. They allow the children to walk inside their balloon which has a 105,000 cubic foot capacity and will hold up to 5 school busses. Ingrid said, “The children are so excited to walk inside the balloon and don’t realize how large the space inside is. We’ve had up to 500 kids inside the balloon at one time with plenty of space left over.”
The Martells travel to eight to ten events per year in places such as Nevada, Northern California and Oregon.
Social media was buzzing with people posting pictures of the giant balloons landing in their backyards or on their streets. Many were not even aware of the festival but were drawn out of their homes because of strange noises coming from their backyards. When they discovered what the noise was, they were thrilled and excited to see the sky alive with colorful balloons.
The balloons come in all shapes and sizes but most are about 60 feet across when fully inflated and over 90 feet tall. They weigh a whopping 250 pounds and with the rest of the equipment, basket, tanks and burners they weigh in at 650 pounds all together.
One of the more spectacular events is the night glow. Balloonists inflate the balloons at night while keeping them tethered to the ground and fuel the fires that set them aglow. Pilots are more than willing to share the information about their balloons and ballooning in general with the public who can get an up close and personal encounter with the giant night lights.
This year’s Balloon Fest went off without fail. Several years prior, weather conditions halted the ability to launch the balloons but this year the weather was perfect. The skies were calm and balloons took to the Mesquite skies on all three days.