Southwest Elementary students attend balloon school

Students from Southwest Elementary School in Tilton, got a special lesson inside the envelope of a hot air balloon on Wednesday, May 8, 2019 courtesy of balloon pilot, Donna Carlton-Vish and Balloons Over Vermilion. Mrs. Esteppe’s 3rd grade class is the festival’s ambassador class for 2019.

Have you ever seen an inflated Hot Air Balloon inside a building? Today students at Southwest Elementary were treated to a preview of Balloons Over Vermilion’s Balloon School and learned how important weather is to flying and the safety of the sport of Hot Air Ballooning. Pilot Donna Carlton-Vish and her crew thrilled the student body as they cold inflated her balloon “Sunny 1” and laid it broadside across the gym floor so students could climb inside the colorful, massive, magical envelope of her first hot air balloon. 

Once inside they learned many aspects of becoming a hot air balloon pilot. Among those lessons were the hours of studying and training that is takes to achieve a hot air balloon pilot’s license, safety conditions related to weather, planning flights using only the winds to steer and how to land without breaks. Most importantly, they learned how critical team work is to being able to fly and land a balloon safely.  One of the most important lessons Donna shared is “If you put your mind to it, anyone can become a hot air balloon pilot”

Southwest’s preview of Balloons Over Vermilion’s Balloon School is one of the special aspects of the annual host student ambassador class.  This year that honor went to Mrs. Esteppe’s 3rd graders. They were treated to being first on the scene and helping “crew” as they pack up processes of deflating a 3 story envelope into a package that fits inside the basket from which the pilot flies.

Balloon School is one of the many awesome events at the 4th annual Balloons Over Vermilion on Saturday, July 13th 2-4pm.  Everyone is invited to experience what the sport of hot air ballooning features, including visiting with and learning from local pilots, enjoying interactive displays, climbing in and out of this year’s pilots’ baskets, experiencing the thrill of competition tossing bean bags at targets, and unpacking a balloon envelope.

The Balloon School includes the exhilarating feeling experienced when stepping inside a huge cold inflated hot air balloon which can lift to the sky within a few short minutes. 

“Sharing the magic of hot air balloons and seeing the look on the kids’ faces is why we love what we and our dedicated team of volunteers do, and why we can’t wait to see everyone at Balloons Over Vermilion July 12, 3-10:30pm and July 13, 1-10:30pm at the Vermilion Regional Airport,” stated co-chairs Jim Anderson and Pat O’Shaughnessy.

To learn more or get involved with Balloons Over Vermilion, go to

Southwest Elementary students attend balloon school