Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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October 22, 2012

Floating above the Rio Grande

Local dentist Dr. Gene Stutsman was one of more than 550 balloon enthusiasits who participated at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Oct. 6 to 14. The Revs. Ed and Brenda Fritz of First United Methodist Church accompanied Stutsman and his wife Ann to help crew.  

According to Stutsman, he has also been networking with other balloonists and special shape pilots to bring 25 balloons to Goshen  next year for the 25th Elkhart County 4-H Fair Balloonchase.  

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest gathering of balloonists in the world and draws over 800,000 guest visits over the nine-day event, according to Stutsman.  

“Albuquerque is a special place for balloonists to fly because of the ‘box’ wind phenomenon,” Stutsman explains. “That allows balloonists to drift south, climb 500 to 1,000 feet and find a change in the air flow that takes them in a northerly direction.”

The AIBF celebrated 41 years since its beginning in 1972 with 13 balloons. The balloon field is a 1/2 mile long and covers 78 acres — an area equivalent to 56 football fields, enough for over 230 balloons to inflate at once.  Because of increasing winds and turbulance in the afternoons, the balloons only flew in the mornings. This was the seventh year since 1998 that the Stutsmans flew their balloon in the AIBF.

Balloons came from over 19 countries and included more than 100 special shapes.

Stutsman flew the American and the Goshen flags on his balloon and had many visiting Indiana residents recognize the Goshen flag and walk over to say hello.

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