Stay grounded, chase a balloon with Callaway Gardens

PINE MOUNTAIN, GA (WTVM) - This Labor Day weekend, Callaway Gardens invites you to become a part of Callaway Gardens' 14th annual Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival by joining a chase crew.

The festival will take place from August 31 to September 3.

Chase crews follow balloons in flight and recover them once they've landed.  It's a terrific way to get involved with your community and experience ballooning firsthand.

Crews assist pilots with inflating, launching, "chasing" and packing the balloons.

A good pair of gloves and a little time are all that are needed.  In return, crew members learn about ballooning and have access to the balloon festival and all the great activities and attractions at Callaway Gardens.

There is a Balloon Glow on Friday, August 31, with setup beginning around 7 p.m. The launches are Saturday, Sept. 1, and Sunday, Sept. 2, between 6:30 a.m. EDT and 7:30 a.m. and again between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.  Crew volunteers should be available at these times.

Balloons fly wherever the wind blows and usually travel five to seven miles before landing.  Chase crews maintain radio contact with a balloon pilot. Once the balloon has landed, the crew assists with retrieving a balloon and its passengers and escorting them back to Callaway Gardens.

Approximately 150 volunteer chase crew members are needed.  Crew members must be at least 18 years old, have a valid driver's license and be able to volunteer at the Balloon Glow on Friday night and for both flights on Saturday and Sunday.  Each balloon needs a four or five-member crew.

If you are interested in becoming a chase crew member or if you have questions about the event, please contact Andy Brown, Callaway Gardens' recreation director, at 706-663-5043 or at

The Sky High Hot Air Balloon Festival will be an exciting time and a great way help make this event safe for members of our community and successful for the thousands of visitors who will be in town to enjoy Labor Day weekend.

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