Quick links:

About this site
About the author
A bit about copyright
Frequently-asked questions
My Mom's 1973 Fiesta slides
Dick Pollard
Coming Soon

Manufacturer pages:

Affiliated Site:
Who's Who of Ballooning

No one knew what it might become.

It was a new thing, this hot-air ballooning. People from all over, inventing a whole new sport - a whole new way of flying, with roots in mankind's earliest ventures into the skies. Balloons were smaller, cruder - burners less powerful than we know them now, and while ballooning was a business for many, it was far from "commercial" in the sense it is today. The history of hot-air ballooning is an esoteric subject, perhaps, but it contains the ingredients of any great story: adversity overcome with ingenuity. Daring. Innovation. Heroes made and lost. Flight has never come easily to humans, but that's good. We're at our best when things don't come easily.

Choose a manufacturer to learn (and see) more Mike Adams Ballooon Loft
Avian Ballooons Barnes Omega, Western, Cameron
Don Piccard Ballooons Raven Industries Semco
George Stokes / Condor Balloons Thunder Balloons Other manufacturers / homebuilts

Coming "Soon", or Why This Website is Better on Facebook

This section was intended to show photos I was planning to add to the site, but it's been this same set of pictures for several years now. That's largely because I'm about a gazillion times busier than I used to be, but it's also because this site has a counterpart - a Facebook group - that is in many ways what I always wanted The Early Years to be but didn't know how to make it: a community where people can post their own pictures, rather than waiting for me to find the time. If you're on Facebook, please consider joining The Early Years of Sport Ballooning Facebook Page. If you don't have any friends in the group or anything ballooning-related in your profile, please send me (Dave Wesner) a private message and I'll add you. I hate to have to do that, but the group has over 1000 members now (!!), so I get a lot of fake/hacked accounts trying to join.

Use the scroll bar under the thumbnails to navigate, clicking on thumbnails
to display photos below. For a full-screen version of this gallery, click here.

A word about this site:I didn't create this site because I'm some kind of expert - I'm not. I get things wrong, and most visitors here know plenty about ballooning, and balloons, that I don't. I am actively seeking correction of my information, and attribution for the images here. People have sent me wonderful photos, facts, corrections, etc. that have gone months or even years without getting on the site, and I feel bad about it. Now, if at all possible, I ask that you consider joining The Early Years of Sport Ballooning Facebook Page, where you can upload pictures that will appear instantly, and be seen by many more people than ever visited this site. And a word on copyright: I am displaying some photos from old books and magazines. Because of their age (and because of the legal right of "fair use"), I make them available, strictly not-for-profit, and will gladly remove whatever I'm asked to remove. If you see a picture to which you own the rights, and you don't want it here (or want attribution posted), please let me know! I'd like to have as many photos as possible duly credited, and used with permission.

Looking worried, 'cause I didn't 
		know why a type-certified aircraft would be labeled 'EXPERIMENTAL'...or something
The author, age 5, next to a Semco basket
during the 1973 World Championships

A few people have asked, over the years, who I am. I live in my native Albuquerque, New Mexico. I have been a balloon nut since the 1973 World Championships, which I had the pleasure of attending at the impressionable age of five. I have two terrific kids. I'm a civil defense attorney. I write and record music. I used to mention on here that I'd never flown in a balloon, but I can no longer say that. A gentleman by the name of Don Boyer saw this site, contacted me, and asked if I'd like to crew one morning. That morning was June 13, 2004, and not only did I get to crew (I was on throat), Don took me up for my first-ever free flight (save for a late-'70s hop across the Fiesta field in a Piccard called "Tejas"), in an Aerostar RX-8 called "AirRageous" (shown at right), which will, of course, forever occupy a special place in my heart.

In the years since word of this site began to get out, I've been simply overwhelmed by the kindness, encouragement and generosity displayed by the pilots, crew, builders and enthusiasts who have taken the time to look around here and write me. I am grateful for every e-mail that's been written, every image that's been sent, and every new friend I've made. Though I don't have a fraction of the time to work on this site that I had when I started it (and since the function of this site has been mostly supplanted, and far surpassed, by its companion Facebook page), I'm keeping the site online, and hope to spruce it up as I go, as a tribute to the ballooning community for half a lifetime (and counting) of fascination with these beautiful, fascinating, absurd and majestic balloons.

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