Photos by Isaac Hoops
The Great Reno Balloon Race officially kicks off Friday, Sept. 10, but event organizers gave pilots a chance to hit the skies one day early and invited media to attend. Photographer Isaac Hoops arrived at Rancho San Rafael Regional Park at 6 a.m. as pilots and crews began the process of unrolling and inflating dozens of hot air balloons—about 45 minutes from start to finish.
The ride over north Reno lasted nearly as long.
Pilot David Dunrud, Jr. has decades of experience crewing and piloting hot air balloons. He was introduced to the sport by his aunt when he was just two years old and began crewing at 11. By age 14 he’d earned his student pilot’s certificate.
For this year’s event, Dunrud is piloting “Billy the Kid,” a cheeky cowboy balloon sponsored by Bonanza Casino. On Thursday’s flight he was able to navigate the craft to the casino a few miles from the park and set down in the parking lot.
Public events for the Great Reno Balloon Race are Friday, Sept. 10 through Sunday, Sept. 12 with gates opening at 3:30 a.m. each day. The Glow Show begins at 5 a.m. followed by Dawn Patrol, launch and other festivities. For more information visit https://renoballoon.com/.