(Riverton, WY) – The Riverton Rendezvous Committee is buying a new hot air balloon envelope this year after Cloud Kisser II – the city’s white balloon envelope – failed its annual inspection this spring.
Rendezvous committee member and past balloonmeister Pat Newlin said she was surprised at the result of the test, noting that she had just taken the envelope out for a flight the weekend before.
“It flew great,” she said. “It was awesome. … But we did know the fabric was fragile.”
During the annual inspection, Newlin said clamps are placed on either side of the weakest portions of the envelope and then pulled apart to see whether the fabric can withstand at least 30 pounds of pressure.
Newlin said Cloud Kisser II tore at 24 pounds in one spot and 28 pounds in another, and the inspector said it was beyond repair.
The envelope already has been rebuilt once since it was purchased in 1994, Newlin said, and it has undergone several additional panel replacements as well.
Plus, she said, Cloud Kisser II has 600 flight hours under its belt.
“That’s actually good life for a nylon fabric,” she said. “We’ve taken really good care of it, and I think we got the maximum use of it.”
Regardless, she said, “I was hoping it would have another year” – especially since the Rendezvous committee just bought a new balloon envelope in 2021.
“We spent (a lot) of our money on the last one,” Newlin said. “We didn’t anticipate this one not passing annual so soon.”
The black balloon envelope that arrived in Riverton last year cost $25,000 and came from Kubicek Balloons.
It will be Riverton’s only envelope at this summer’s Rendezvous rally, which usually features two city balloons – one for flights and another for tethered rides.
The Rendezvous committee is still deciding whether to go through Kubicek again this year to replace Cloud Kisser II, which came from a different company called FireFly Balloons, Newlin said.
No matter which company it comes from, though, she said the new balloon envelope will likely be white, not black.
“We’ll still have the same colors, top and bottom, with the white in the middle,” Newlin said. “(We’ll) go back to our original colors.”
The Rendezvous committee is hosting a raffle this year to raise money for the new envelope, with information available on their Facebook page.