Windsor woman brings her passion for hot air balloons to residents
September 5, 2017
Debbi Waltman remembers watching a hot air balloon fly over her home 30 years ago.
Her mom always loved looking at pictures of the balloons, and once Waltman saw one she was hooked.
"I always tell people my mother made me do it," she said.
She began looking for a pilot. After a couple years of searching, Waltman said she joined the crew for a balloon. She worked on the ground for another two years, unloading and loading the balloon and following its flight, before finally telling the pilot he was going to teach her to fly.
“I always tell people my mother made me do it,”Debbi Waltman
About 25 years ago, Waltman said she could count the number of women pilots on one hand, so the pilot was rather surprised by her request.
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"He gave me a weird look," she said.
But he taught her, and now Waltman has been flying hot air balloons for 25 years.
When she moved to Windsor she wanted to bring her love to the town's residents.
So Waltman asked Tara Fotsch, manager of recreation for the town of Windsor, if she could bring a little more color to the Windsor Harvest Festival.
"She said OK, and we've been bringing them ever since," she said.
This year the Saturday and Sunday morning balloon launches were part of a larger event, "Picture the Sky Balloons at Windsor Harvest Festival." The colorful balloons, with names like "Sky Kisser" and Waltman's "No Worries," were stretched out on the ground before lift-off.
They're as tall as a seven-story building, said Patricia Newlin, owner of "Sky Kisser."
Eight of the large balloons were set to be in the sky in Windsor Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Waltman said she expects good weather and a great turnout from residents, as more than 1,000 people have said they are going on the Facebook event.
"It should be a gorgeous, photogenic weekend," she said.
For those who want to do more than just watch, the first step is to learn, Waltman said. As a licensed pilot and instructor, Waltman can teach,
She has instructed Windsor firefighters, and other area balloon-lovers. Waltman recommends learning before purchasing a balloon, because she said not everyone can fly.
Pricing for the balloons is similar to a car, Waltman said, with nice, used balloons for anywhere from $10-15,000, and brand new balloons from $35-50,000, and up.
Although Waltman said she is the only instructor in Windsor, she knows of about a dozen in northern Colorado.
"We're a very tight group," she said.