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Saturday, Apr. 30, 2016

Up, up, and away

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Special guest - Pictured, left to right, are Dar Bierman, Mikki Hinkhouse, Sam Hinkhouse, Pilot Penny Bierman and crew member Rich Hinkhouse. This was the first ride for Mikki and Sam, whose aunt is Pilot Penny Bierman. Photo contributed
Soaring high in the 'Sandia Sunlight'

Recently, Sam and Mikki Hinkhouse of Cherokee got the ride of a lifetime.

Their aunt, Penny Bierman of Albuquerque, N.M., and her friend Barbara Fricke decided to bring hot air ballooning to Cherokee.

On their way home from flying in a balloon rally in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, Canada, they stopped by Cherokee, and with special permission from Cherokee Airport Director Brian Lauck, they launched the 90,000 cubic foot balloon known as the "Sandia Sunlight" from the airport.

This is no ordinary balloon. Barbara and her companion, Peter, made the "envelope" as it is referred to, in their home in Albuquerque. It took 255 hours and over a year to construct it. It now has nearly 70 hours of flight time. Penny completed her balloon pilot written test in South Sioux City Neb., took her oral exam and check ride in Albuquerque, and received her pilot's license on Aug. 15, 2009.

Although Penny has piloted several times, this was her first flight in Iowa as a balloon pilot and a special chance for her to take her nephew and niece along.

As a quick test flight, she took sister-in-law Roxy and sister Peg up for a hop. After launching from the airport, they floated southwest over farm ground skimming some trees and doing a little bean surfing, before landing on 590th Street with the help of crew members Dar and Roxy Bierman, Rich and Peg Hinkhouse, Mel and Norma Reinholdt, and Barbara Fricke.

The 'Sandia Sunlight' hot air balloon recently graced the sky above Cherokee. The balloon belong sto Penny Bierman, from Albuquerque, N.M. , and she and some of her friends stopped by Cherokee to give rides to some other friends and relatives. Photo contributed
Test flight - Prior to the Sandia Sunlight flight recently, the crew held a test flight with Peg Hinkouse, left, Roxy Bierman, center, and Penny Bierman. Photo contributed
After a safe landing and packing up the balloon, a short ceremony was conducted for the first time riders, Sam, Mikki, and Roxy,with these words: 'The winds have welcomed you with softness, The sun has blessed you with his warm hands, For you have flown so high, and so well, That God has joined you in laughter and set you gently back into the loving arms of Mother Earth. Amen.'

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