Hot-air balloons returning to Dungeness Valley airport under new Air Affaire focus
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Capt. Crystal Stout’s hot-air balloon inflates over Sequim’s Lavender Weekend in July. -- Photo by Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– Hot-air balloons, wing walkers and drones will fill the sky over Labor Day weekend, since plans for the first Olympic Peninsula Air Affaire have been firmed up.

The Air Affaire — a celebration of the Dungeness Valley’s love affair with flying machines and the 30th anniversary of Sequim Valley Airport — will be at the airport Aug. 31 through Sept. 1.

“There are a lot of people who love to fly around here,” said Emily Westcott, co-coordinator of the Air Affaire. “We’re going to celebrate all of that.”

The Sequim Balloon Festival has been put on hold this year in lieu of the Air Affaire.

Air Affaire organizers are bringing in owners of classic planes, hot-air balloons, biplanes and skydivers, remote control airplanes, live music and a car show.

Admission will be $5 per carload.

Capt. Crystal Stout of the Morning Star Balloon Co. said at least three hot air balloon teams will be on the scene to provide rides for a fee, which will be set when reservations are made.

“It’s going to be a very laid-back event but a lot of fun, too,” Stout said.

More balloons may be brought in, Stout said, if demand for rides is higher than expected.

People can RSVP balloon rides by contacting Stout at 360-601-2443 or airboss@nwplace.com.

Last year’s balloon festival generated some complaints, organizers of the Air Affaire noted, because balloons were staged at the airport, while festival activities and vendors were set up in Sequim proper.

“This year, it’s all going to be in one place,” Westcott said. “Everything will be at the airport, and we’re just expanding the celebration to planes and cars.”

“There’s going to be something for everyone,” Stout said.

She also asked landowners to lay white sheets in their yards to let balloon pilots know they can land on the property.

Those landowners will be entered into a drawing for two free hot air balloon rides.

More than 50 planes are lined up to be on display at the airport over the weekend, Westcott said.

Among them is a biplane owned by Mike and Marilyn Mason of the West Coast Spin Doctors.

The Masons will offer rides for $135 a ride in the classic plane and will provide a wing-walking exhibition during the festival.

To volunteer to help at the event or for more information, visit the Air Affaire’s website, www.olympicpeninsulaairaffaire.weebly.com.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: August 13. 2013 6:17PM
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