Three balloon crews gathered at Rancho San Rafael Park on Friday, April 12, to announce that all three days of the 2019 Great Reno Balloon Race will feature Dawn Patrol. The races will run Friday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 8 at Rancho San Rafael Park.
Beginning at 5 am each morning, tethered balloons will illuminate their envelopes as a part of the Glow Show. Balloons will twinkle to the beat of music as a part of this choreographed display.
Then at 5:30 am, a select set of balloons will take off for Dawn Patrol. A rare sight, these balloons glow brilliantly in the still-dark skies as they circle the Park. In years past, Dawn Patrol was held on the weekend only, but in 2019 balloons will fly at dawn on Friday too.
Atmospheric conditions change rapidly as the sun rises, making flying more difficult. Only about 25 pilots in the world are allowed to fly pre-dawn flights.
Tim Taylor, one such pilot, argued that the Reno Balloon Races is “the best event in the whole country for Dawn Patrol,” in part because balloons are able to take off and land in the same location, which is unique.
Started in 1982, the Great Reno Balloon Race is the largest free hot-air balloon event in the world. More than 100 balloons participated last year, and attendance is expected to exceed 125,000. In addition to the Glow Shows and Dawn Patrol, events include tethered rides, shopping along Balloon Boulevard, a tissue paper balloon launch held by local students, and of course the main attraction, daily races.
More information, including a schedule of events, is available at the 2019 Great Reno Balloon Race website: https://renoballoon.com/
Andrea is a freelance photographer and mountain enthusiast. She discovered the Great Basin on her first trip to California 15 years ago and finally made the move to Reno in 2019. Her favorite stories investigate efforts to strike a balance between conservation and recreation. Andrea has made images for a variety of publications, websites, and conservation organizations. In her free time—and sometimes for work!—she enjoys rock climbing, backpacking, snowshoeing, and lazy days in camp with her husband.