Hot Air Balloon Rally returns to Pittsfield with asterisk on milestone

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  • Michael Olin pilots his balloon ˜Heaven Sent€™ over the Soucook River near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin fills his balloon, Heaven Sent, with hot air as he flies over Drake Field in Pittsfield on Thursday.

  • Michael Olin pilots his balloon ˜Heaven Sent over the Soucook River near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin pilots his balloon Heaven Sent€™ over the Soucook River near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022.The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin looks down on Pittsfield as he pilots his balloon €˜Heaven Sent over near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022.The 40th Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin looks down on Pittsfield as he pilots his balloon €˜Heaven Sent€™ over Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022.The 40th Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an astrick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin holds his hat as he inspects the filling up his balloon €˜Heaven Sent€™ on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The 40th Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • A crew assists as Michael Olin fills up his balloon  ˜Heaven Sent€™ on Thursday.

  • Michael Olin gets ready to launch his balloon Heaven Sent on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin blows hot air filling up his balloon ‘Heaven Sent’ on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The 40th Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin blows hot air filling up his balloon Heaven Sent on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The 40th Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin pilots his balloon Heaven Sent near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin pilots his balloon ˜Heaven Sent€™ over the Soucook River near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin pilots his balloon Heaven Sent€™ over the Soucook River near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022.The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin pilots his balloon Heaven Sent€™ as it casts a shadow over the trees in Pittsfield on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The 40th Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin’€™s ground crew breaks down his balloon Heaven Sent€™ back after flying on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin keeps the tradition of opening champagne after a successful flight on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • The sun rises over the trees of Pittsfield on Thursday.

  • Michael Olin’s ground crew brings in his balloon Heaven Sent over the Soucook River near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin’€™s ground crew carries his balloon €˜Heaven Sent€™ back to his truck after flying on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an asterick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

  • Michael Olin’s ground crew brings in his balloon ‘Heaven Sent’ over the Soucook River near Drake Field in Pittsfield as the sun rises over the trees on Thursday, August 4, 2022. The Suncook Valley Rotary Hot Air Balloon Rally is set to launch again this year after a two-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Organizers are calling it the 40th annual with an astrick because of the interruption. The balloon launches are scheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., and Saturday at 5:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5:30 a.m. GEOFF FORESTER—Monitor staff

Published: 8/4/2022 4:49:29 PM

This year’s hot air balloon rally in Pittsfield will be a special one.

For one, it’s the first time the rally has been held in earnest for the past three years after festivities were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Second, it’s the 40th anniversary of the rally held every year by the Suncook Valley Rotary Club. Third, that anniversary comes with an asterisk.

Pilots like Mike Olin of Heaven Sent Ballooning lifted off the past two years during the rally weekend to give the community the same serene sights of seeing floating orbs in the sky. Even though annual staples like carnival rides and the rotary breakfast were canceled, the balloons still took off, which is why this year still gets to be the 40th anniversary.

“We still had the balloon rally spirit even though we were restricted,” said Fallon Reed, president of the Suncook Valley Rotary Club.

Olin, of Warner, bought his balloon about eight years ago after his father passed away, which is how it got its name, Heaven Sent.

He said flying around the community during COVID was inspiring.

“People were really happy to see something happening,” Olin said. “You land in their yard, and obviously we would keep distance and stuff, but just to see something happening, everybody was really excited like, ‘awesome.’ ”

The festival is scheduled to begin at Drake Field Friday at 3 p.m. Balloons are scheduled to lift off Friday and Saturday evening at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday mornings at 5:30 a.m., weather dependent. The balloons are inflated but remain on the ground at dusk on Friday and Saturday evenings for the “Night Glow.” Almost all the other events will be held rain or shine.

One of the valley’s newest businesses, Over the Moon Farmstand – home of Moonlight Meadery and Hidden Moon Brewing – will be hosting live music this year.

Go to the Rotary Club’s webpage for a full schedule of events.




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