SLIDESHOW: Ogden Valley Balloon Festival
EDEN -- Early in the morning, bright nylon is unrolled on the ground beneath an empty sky.
With a whir of fans, 20 multicolored bubbles begin rising from the ground.
Finally, a roar of flame sends one balloon skyward. A heat wave warms onlookers braving the chilly morning.
A few minutes later, the sky is filled with balloons drifting gently on the breeze.
"There's just something about this moment. It's a lot of work to get here, but there's something about this moment and I'm like a kid in a candy store every time," Ogden Valley Balloon Festival spokeswoman Nancy Seraphin said as she watched the balloons inflating.
"This is a wonderful way for us to showcase the valley. There are a lot of people who come who have never been here before."
The balloon festival, in its 15th year of flying high over Ogden Valley, continues to entrance new visitors every year.
Isaac Nelson, 7, ran excitedly around a launching balloon, exclaiming about how cool it was to see the fire.
"I like watching the balloons go up," Isaac said.
Mark Prothro, a pilot based in Park City, said he loves flying in Ogden Valley because the scenery is so beautiful, even if the ride is limited by the mountains.
Although he takes shorter rides than he used to, the 20-year veteran pilot still hasn't gotten tired of flying balloons.
After floating to higher than 800 feet, Prothro said pilots must go up to 5,000 feet before they can get a commercial license from the Federal Aviation Administration.
High-speed landings are the hardest part of piloting a balloon, he said. If the wind picks up after the launch, catching a fast breeze on the way down makes finding a spot to land more difficult because it has to be larger.
Even with Friday's gentle breeze, Prothro had to plan carefully. Because the wind is the balloon's only steering method, last-minute changes in landing spots are normal.
It must have road access, no power lines or fences and no animals.
"Horses don't like balloons," he said, "especially horses in small enclosures."
Using radio contact with the ground crew, Prothro directs his team to the landing spot, where it catches the basket and packs the envelope for the next day.
Marion Horna, of Ogden Valley, is helping Prothro for the festival because he loves the balloons and the chance to be with a native Texan.
"He's great to work with and makes being the ground crew fun," Horna said.
The festival was even visited by the Hot "Hare" Balloon, a 156-foot-tall Energizer bunny.
"The bunny needs a lot of room to land," Prothro said, looking on as it touched down. "It needs that whole road to lay the balloon out."
The festival continues today and Sunday with early morning balloon launches, an art competition, games and tonight's balloon glow, during which the balloons inflate and light up in the dark.
If you go
* 6-10 a.m.: Wolf Creek Resort Festival Field (Eden), balloon launch and rides
All-you-can-eat breakfast for $8
* 8 a.m.-3 p.m.: Plein-air competition, Paint in the Ogden Valley
* 9 a.m.-6 p.m.: Wolf Creek Utah Ski Resort (Nordic Valley), exhibits, food, music and kid's games, fine art exhibits, craft and food booths, mountain-man rendezvous
* 4-6 p.m.: Plein-air competition exhibit and silent auction
* 5 p.m.: Plein-air competition awards announcement
* 5:30-10 p.m.: Wolf Creek Resort Festival Field (Eden), entertainment and dinner (all you can eat for $12 until 8 p.m.)
* 6 p.m.: CheÂ¬Â¥ Zuro
* 7 p.m.: Pladdohg
* 8-10 p.m.: Shades of Grey
* 8:45 p.m.: Balloon glow
* 6-10 a.m.: Wolf Creek Resort Festival Field (Eden), balloon launch and rides; all-you-can-eat breakfast for $8
* 10 a.m.-2 p.m.: Wolf Creek Utah Ski Resort (Nordic Valley), exhibits, food, music and kid's games, fine art exhibits, craft and food booths, mountain-man rendezvous