Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bruning, Nebraska: Hot Air Ballooning Hotbed

Since I've begun to crew for a balloon-pilot colleague, I've become interested in this sport. I've been doing a little research. So, having grown up in southeast Nebraska, about 10 miles from Bruning, I was surprised to learn of a significant event that occurred there in 1960. The equipment used in modern hot air ballooning was first demonstrated outside Bruning by Ed Yost (who coincidentally died just a few weeks ago [No! Not in a balloon wreck!].) He was the first to use an airborne heater to keep the balloon aloft.

Of course, hot air ballooning had been around for almost 200 years at that point. The advent of a portable mechanism to keep the air hot allowed the pilot to maneuver in the vertical plane, and the sport received a shot in the arm. Currently there are, according to My Favorite Site in the World, 7500 balloons in the US.

I found it somewhat ironic that Southeast Nebraska would be involved in the revival of a sport which, as far as I know, has almost no participation in that part of the world. I don't recall ever seeing a hot air balloon as a kid. Someone, please correct me if I'm wrong about the dearth of ballooning in SE Nebr.

Ahh...Bruning. I have fond memories of Pastor Thomas Damrow, who shepherded the flock Trinity Lutheran Church in Bruning during my childhood there. God bless you, if you're out there, Pastor.

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