The wind is but a whistle as it softly moves around the fabric. With a flash of color and the hiss of escaping petroleum, an orange flame rises towards the sky. The balloon rises gently a few more feet above Tigard.
“I love the camaraderie between everyone,” says Cory Miller.
Cory and his father, Greg Miller, of Salem, Oregon, were two of the balloonists at this year’s Festival of Balloons in Tigard. The annual event featured hot air balloon launches, along with a twilight run, soccer game, car show, eating contests and games. Four specially shaped balloons, like the Flying Purple People Eater and a giant panda bear, were also on display.
“The ballooning community is one big family, so I love taking my kids to the events,” continues Cory. “We all know each other and know everything about each other. We’ve seen each others’ kids grow up.”
Greg first convinced his two sons to wake up at the crack of dawn and fly in a hot air balloon back in 1989. From that moment on, Cory was hooked. Twenty-four years later, Cory is vice president of the Balloon Federation of America.
Cory’s children are usually present in the crew. They know the names of all the parts of the balloon and the steps for setup and takedown. His youngest daughter, Meyghan, a fifth grader, is planning on a career as a hot air balloonist.
“I like to fly and see how high the balloon goes,” says Meyghan. “You can look down on the field from a different perspective and see how many people are there.”
This type of love for the sport from children is important to Cory.
“A lot of the pilots are getting older, so if we don’t get more and more of the younger generation involved, the sport itself could actually be lost because of the lack of people flying,” he says.
With three generations involved in ballooning, the Miller family is certainly doing their part to keep the sport alive.