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.