The first UFOs were reported in France when the sport of ballooning was new. The balloons would often land on the farm of a Frenchman who had never seen such an object, and the threat of being shot or stabbed posed a real problem for balloon pilots and their passengers.
No pitchforks or guns were brandished at the second annual Dina-Float Hot Air Balloon Festival, held recently in Vernal. The 20 balloonists took a day off from work to go to local schools and educate the children in the art of ballooning.Gordon and E.J. Ferguson, from Spokane, Wash., visited Central Elementary, where they answered questions and showed the children how the balloon was inflated. With his balloon Plum Lucky tethered by a long rope, Ferguson rose like the Wizard of Oz across the ball diamond.
A hare and hound race demonstrated each pilot's skills. The "hare" Innesfree, piloted by Jerry Shane and Steu Collins, placed a 25-foot-by-25-foot X on the ground. Each "hound" dropped a marker, trying to come closest to the center of the X.
Steu Collins, Balloon Federation of America balloon meister for the state of Utah and a member of the Utah Aeronauts, said, "Every balloonist cares about the sport of ballooning and wants to see it promoted in a safe and positive way."
The Dina-Float allowed those who participate from the Balloon Federation of America to score points to qualify for a national balloon competition to be held in Baton Rouge, La.
Skydiving by O-Zone, a demonstration team from Ogden, capped off the afternoon with aerobatics. The five-member team exited the airplane at 9,000 feet, performing various maneuvers while falling at 110 mph.
Ray Keir, Vernal Chamber of Commerce spokesman, said he would like to see the Vernal Dina-Float become as prestigious as Park City's Autumn Aloft.