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A Saint Louis Signature Event

[imagefield_assist|fid=6805|preset=fullsize|lightbox=true|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=281|height=375]The Chess Club and Scholastic Center of Saint Louis will be participating in this year's Great Forest Park Balloon Race and Balloon Glow on Friday, September 17, and Saturday, September 18. Our balloon will launch at 4:45 p.m. on Saturday, and there are a number of fun and exciting events surrounding this great St. Louis tradition!

On Friday, the Balloon Glow will offer spectators a spectacular view of all of the hot air balloons lit up on the ground of Central Field in Forest Park.

The public is invited to tour the grounds and get up-close-and-personal with these magnificent mega-luminaries. Refreshments and food are available, and the evening will be capped off with the PNC Bank fireworks finale at approximately 9 p.m.

The following day will be chock full of fun events surrounding the Great Forest Park Balloon Race. This marks the 38th anniversary of the race, one of the signature events of Saint Louis! Don't miss Grandmaster Ben Finegold as he performs a simul exhibition at 1:30 p.m. The chess club will have a tent set up in the exhibitor space, as well as some tables and oversized chess set in the Children's area!

Live music, pony rides, skydivers food and fun are just a few of the great attractions this unique event has to offer! There will even be a fun photo contest available for the public to take an submit pictures to win great prizes. Don't forget to get your bunny ears to celebrate the 20th Birthday of the Energizer Bunny!

Click here for more info about the Wehrenberg/Suburban journals photo contest.

The event schedule is as follows:


  • 12:00pm: Festivities begin! Purina Children's Entertainment Area featuring incredible dogs, food courts, pony rides, Farmers Insurance Kids ID booth, oversized chess board, Energizer Bunny ears and more!
  • 1:00pm: AT&T Entertainment Stage Opens (featuring live local acts)
  • 1:30pm: GM Ben Finegold Simul
  • 2:00pm: Wehrenberg/Suburban Journals Photo Contest details
  • 3:00pm: Skydivers
  • 3:30pm: Opening Ceremonies
  • 4:30pm: Energizer Hot "Hare" Balloon Launch
  • 4:45pm: "Hound" Balloon Launch begins

Click here for more information about the Great Forest Park Balloon Race.

You can follow our balloon's progress live right here! Check out our interactive map that will track our balloon's movements, and follow our twitter feed as Mike Wilmering sends updates from high in the sky, (hopefully) safe and secure in the Chess Club's balloon basket!


The following fun hot air balloon facts were taken from

Who invented the first hot air balloon?

Credit as the inventor of the first hot air balloon actually goes to three Frenchmen. Two brothers, Jacques and Joseph Montgolfier, were responsible for the first manned hot air balloon flight in Paris in 1783. About two months before the first manned flight, they built a balloon in which the French scientist Pilatre De Rozier launched a flight that lasted about ten minutes and covered about one mile, with a chicken, a duck and a sheep on board. When the animals survived the trip, the inventor of the hot air balloon knew he was on to something! Two months later, De Rozier became one of the first two people ever to ride in a hot air balloon, when the Montgolfiers launched them for a 20-minute flight over Paris.


What are hot air balloons made of?

The first hot air balloons were made of fabric coated with alum to prevent it from catching fire. The burner was little more than an open pit, which caused more than a few early balloons to go down in flames as sparks ignited them. Modern balloons are made of fireproof nylon fabrics, have wicker baskets, and are fueled by high velocity propane burners. Modern balloons are powered by one to four burners.


How do hot air balloons fly?

Hot air balloons are very simple in design, and use propane fueled burners to heat the air inside them and gain altitude. As we all know, hot air rises. Heating the air inside a balloon causes the balloon to lift. More flame makes the balloon go higher, and opening a special valve (the "parachute flap") at the top of the balloon releases the hotter air and slows its ascent, or allows it to descend.


Are hot air balloons safe?

Absolutely, as long as they are flown by a qualified pilot in good weather. Companies offering hot air balloon rides have experienced ground crews who check every aspect of the balloon, and monitor the weather before each flight. There's even a crew on the ground that follows the balloon during the entire flight. To make sure your flight is as safe as possible, see to it that the organization you fly with is qualified, experienced, and knowledgeable. Doing a little research or even checking references will put your mind at ease and make your flight more enjoyable.


How high do hot air balloons go?

A typical commercial pleasure balloon flight reaches anywhere from about 500 feet to as much as 3,000 feet altitude above ground level, although flights up to 10,000 feet are possible. Helium balloons using very specialized equipment, including fully enclosed, pressurized cabins, have exceeded 100,000 feet in altitude. The altitude record for hot air balloons is 65,000 feet.


How fast does a balloon go?

That's a deceptively simple question. The answer is that the speed at which balloon moves depends on the speed of the winds at a given altitude. By the way, since you are moving with the wind, you don't feel any wind during your flight. The sensation is very much like floating!


How long does a normal hot air balloon ride last?

The average pleasure hot air balloon ride lasts around an hour, but some may go as long as three hours. The distance traveled depends on various factors such as piloting and wind conditions, but is usually around ten miles. Some professional balloonists have remained aloft for as long as three weeks, covering many thousands of miles in the process. In 1999, one such pair of adventurous souls travel led completely around the world in just under 20 days.


How much does a hot air balloon flight cost?

Obviously, that is up to the individual provider, but the typical cost is around $200 per person for a flight lasting about an hour. Some balloon flight services may offer group discounts, family discounts, or special rates on certain days, so it pays to plan ahead and check.


When is the best time to take a hot air balloon ride?

Cool weather is always preferred to hot weather, so spring and fall are ideal. Regardless of the season, most pilots prefer to fly either just after dawn or just before dusk, since these times offer cooler air and the calmest and most favorable wind conditions for hot air ballooning.


Where can I find out more about hot air balloons?

You'll find a great deal of information right here, in our articles, and our directory. The next best thing to do would be to perform an internet search. There are numerous web sites, clubs and organizations devoted to hot air balloons. Consult your yellow pages or do a local search to find the hot air balloon ride providers in your area.