Grants Pass students get sneak peek into Grants Pass Balloon and Kite Festival

Grants Pass, Ore.- Do you ever feel like you have your head in the clouds? Balloon meister Bob Raper does. He’s been a balloon pilot for 20 years.

“I’ve been actively flying commercial balloons since 1995,” he said.

And he has spent more than 1600 hours of his life up in the sky.

“Every flight is different, every flight is unique, and there is no two fights that are identical,” Bob said.

Bob’s been in aviation his entire life so it’s no surprise that when he retired from the federal government he didn’t want to stay grounded.

“When the opportunity came for me to buy a balloon, I said this would be a neat thing for me to try,” he said.

Being up 1,000 feet in the air can definitely take your breathe away.

“It’s what we live for,” he said.

And for Bob he wants to share his passion with others.

“I want to make it a mission of mine to draw others into the sport and get them started as early as possible,” Bob said.

About 450 students got that chance Thursday.

“Today was one of the best days of school I’ve ever had,” Caidein said.

Caidein Clark and his classmates are students from one of the six elementary schools in Grants Pass that got a sneak peek at the Grants Pass Balloon and Kite Festival. They got to learn the ins and outs of the hot air balloon.

“I think about 250 of me’s could fit in there,” nine-year-old Trevin Cook said.

He may be a little off.

“This one can hold about 105 thousand basketballs,” one of the balloon pilots said.

But Trevin’s got the idea.

“I think its wonderful to capture a young mind and introduce them to new things and see the interest and the amazement in their face. It makes me feel like I’m passing on something,” Bob said.

All of the flights this weekend are sold out but there are 6 spots up for grabs on Sunday morning. If you volunteer at the event, you will earn a chance to win one of those flights. Click HERE for more information.

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