Bad weather grounds festival’s hot air balloons, leaving pilots penniless
Visitors and locals alike were eager to welcome the annual Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival, but the damp weather kept the bulk of the display grounded.
Only a few balloons managed to take flight, meaning pilots walked away with no profits.
Over the past five days, pilots had to refund money for rides because of the strong winds and torrential rain.
Passengers bring in up to $250 each, but only if they actually make it to the skies.
This year was particularly important, as the festival celebrates its 30-year anniversary. Organizers were expecting to see close to 200,000 visitors come through Parc de la Baie, but pilots say they were well under that projection.
Worst summer in recent memory
For safety, hot air balloons are only allowed to take off in favourable conditions, meaning they are easily grounded if there is fog, rain or wind.
“Weather has affected us greatly this year,” said Todd Monahan, a pilot from Lake George, N.Y.
He said he’s attended the festival for five years and this summer’s weather was the worst he’s seen.