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Highlights from Monroe Balloon & Blues Festival

POSTED: Friday, June 13th, 2014 ------- 7:30 p.m.

Hot air balloons are getting set to take to the sky in Monroe for the kick off of the Balloon and Blues Festival.

Pilot Chris Keefe has been taking to the skies for almost four decades and says there's nothing else like it. "I've been involved with ballooning for about 38 years," he added.

He's joined by Nifty Gadget Ballooning Crew Chief Joyce Phillips, and together, they see the ground from a bird's eye view. "This is the equivalent of the balloon engine. Those are the burners that heat the inside of the balloon envelope," he showed us.

But preparation is key when getting up in the air, especially keeping an eye on the weather and the wind. Pilots generally don't fly with winds stronger than 10 miles per hour. Chris added, "when you're in the air flying, faster winds are fine. As long as when you come down to land, you have slower winds on the surface."

And setting up the balloon, getting it ready to fly- is like an art. "You need to push the frame over this way," said Chris. Chris has traveled to a lot of places with his hot air balloon, but says there's one thing that really makes flying in Wisconsin unique. "It's not flat, and it's not all sand. There's a variety of things. It's a pretty country to be in."

And no matter where he flies, being able to make other people's day is better than any view. "When we're flying, flying over people's houses; they come out they smile, they wave; big smiles on their faces. It's the smile factor."

The festival is free, parking is $3.

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