Fall is for flying in the Lakeway Area. The Experimental Aircraft Association held its annual Fly-in on Sept 21 in Morristown and balloons will hit the air above White Pine in late October.
Along with airplane rides, viewing a variety of planes and activities like flying air rockets at the Morristown Regional Airport, EAA Fly-in attendees were able to see a tornado simulator provided by Anthony Cavallucci, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service, located in Morristown.
“This is a simulated tornado,” Cavallucci said “It’s a good indicator that shows water vapor and the circulation that may be inside a tornado. Here in Hamblen County, we’ve had only three tornadoes since 1870, so we don’t get too many of these around. We’re glad to be teaching the kids a little bit of weather safety.”
Cavallucci recalled the last tornado in northeastern Tennessee on April 27, 2011, a late-night twister in the Camp Creek community of Greene County in which several persons died.
“We couldn’t see it coming,” Cavallucci said. “It’s important that people understand that severe weather can happen anywhere, anytime, especially here.”
Kelli Nabor, a Southwest Virginia native, talked about life as an air traffic controller in Knoxville. She was at the Morristown Airport in the summer during a Girls, Inc. Aviation Day activity.
“We represent air traffic control in Knoxville,” Nabor said. “We cover a 30-mile area of air space, up to 5,000 feet where any airplane flying through that area are given traffic advisories to help them get to their destinations safely and to let them know about the weather.
“I’ve always wanted to be in aviation,” she said. “My dad is a pilot and I have my own private pilot’s license as well. We have a tower within our facility where we work. Up in the tower, you get to see airplanes every day. It’s a fun job.”
Balloon meister Ray Fournier was on site at the Fly-in, drumming up support for the hot air balloon celebration in White Pine on Oct. 26.
“Every flight and passenger is different,” he said. “No two flights are the same, but they’re all the same. I can make a hot air balloon go up and down and do everything I want to do with it. Sometimes, Mother Nature is going to throw me a curve.”
Fournier has been flying commercially for 20 years. He learned how to fly in New Hampshire where there are 87 percent forest land.
He and his wife Mary Ann moved to New Market five years ago and fly commercially from the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.
“We only fly mornings. If people see our two balloons, we are flying,” Fournier said.
One hot air balloon is called “Lucky Charm,” with the other called “The Breeze.”
At the White Pine celebration, the Lakeside of the Smokies Balloon Festival, there will be 23 balloons in the air on Saturday morning.
In addition to balloon rides, the festival, to be held at Chilton Farm, will feature live music, food and a wine garden. The farm has partnered with regional balloonists and the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council to offer the agritourism event.
Scheduled during peak color season in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the colors of autumn will provide the backdrop for more than 15 hot air balloons as they ascend above Douglas Lake and provide spectacular views of the surrounding rural countryside and the Great Smoky Mountains.
Chilton Farm will provide family fun for all ages, including viwing antique tractors and engines, local farm fare, live bands, climbing walls, kids’ activities.
The balloons will begin to inflate early afternoon with as many as 10 balloons ascending in free flight, shape balloons inflating for static display, and round balloons providing tethered rides.
Attendees will be able to walk among the static display balloons; a balloon basket will be available for selfies and tethered rides will be given until balloons start forming up around dusk for the evening glow.
The glow will last around an hour each evening. Everything is conditional on weather (if weather does not permit an elevated balloon glow the balloons will perform a candlestick glow).
The festival is a nonprofit fundraiser. 100% of proceeds from the event reimbursed expenses and support 16 Not-For-Profit Middle East Tennessee County Tourism Associations that promote the Middle East Tennessee region.