3- flight fest

By Andria Barrios

On September 11-13, Wesley Chapel will hold its third annual Festival of Flight at the Tampa North Flight Center. American Balloons, based at the center, will hold this event and spectator admission is free, with $5 parking. “This is definitely something the area is craving,” said Jessica Warren, director of the festival and founder of American Balloons. She expects over 30,000 will attend.

Everything related to aviation will be celebrated at the festival. Plane, helicopter, trike and T-6 Warbird rides are available, as well as hot air balloon rides. Aircraft of all shapes and sizes will be offered for observation as well as flight, from balloons to deltas to kites.

Other entertainment will also be provided, including live music from bands such as Stonegrey and Infinity on High featuring Zakk Morgan. A gyrosphere, bounce houses, sponsor booths and food vendors like the Happy Hanger Café additionally make up the festival. “We keep it as family friendly and affordable as possible,” said Warren, of this non-smoking, alcohol free event.

The Festival of Flight begins on Friday, September 11 at 5 p.m. and ends on Sunday, September 13 at 2 p.m. Nightly Hot Air Balloon Glow shows will take place Friday and Saturday evening and last until 9 p.m. at closing. Balloons lift off around 7 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, and allow participants to view the Florida sunrise for one hour over Wesley Chapel, Tampa, Lutz and Land O’ Lakes depending on the wind direction. Adult rides run at $189, before gratuity. Other aircraft ride pricing varies.

Seventeen years ago, American Balloons was created in order to share the gift of flight with the community. Over 20 experienced pilots are now employed, and several sponsors have become involved such as Hampton Inn and Suites, Grow Life Church, Napa Autoparts, Organic Gold and Mary Kay Cosmetics.

“Have a taste of the amazing food, friendship and pilots in our own community that soar above the rest.”

The Festival of Flight 2015 will be held at 4241 Birdsong Blvd. in Lutz. For more information, visit www.festivalofflightwesleychapel.com or www.facebook.com/americanballoonslol/. Book your flight for the festival at www.americanballoonrides.com.