Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic
Windsor, California
July 3 - 5, 2004

By Gary Rominger

   The 2004 Sonoma County Hot Air Balloon Classic was held in Windsor, CA over the 4th of July weekend. Although the weather had been bad all week and the forecast was for more of the same, the media flight on Friday and the mass ascension on Saturday were under conditions that were almost too good. The winds were pretty much dead calm below 1000 feet AGL. Sunday the fog rolled in and kept the balloons on the ground.

Cloudhopper pilot Gary Rominger used his hopper “Rosebud” for a free-flight on Friday’s media flight and for a tether show on Sunday. The media were quick to notice the strange looking balloon with no basket and did both interviews and shot pictures. On Sunday, Gary waited until most of the regular larger balloons were inflated on the field before putting up Rosebud, which drew a large crowd of spectators. After several tethered ascensions, Gary turned over the controls to his team pilot, Kyle Miller, and then let other pilots who had never flown a hopper take hops on the tether line too. As the winds picked up the fog began to clear but the day was over for the 35 balloons attending the event.