13th Annual Chester County Balloon Festival
June 21st, 22nd, 23rd 2019

The Chester County Balloon Festival is the must attend event at New Garden Flying Field in Toughkenamon PA. Filled with activities on–the-ground and in-the-air, the festival provides family fun for all ages. Benefiting Chester County Hero Fund

  • 100+ Vendors
  • Live Bands
  • Balloons & Glows
  • Kid Activities
  • Fireworks

Ballooning History Display

Ballooning History Display

Besides being the hot bed of aviation innovation in America, Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley was the only place in the United States in the early 1950s where the sport of lighter-than-air or gas bag ballooning was operational through the Balloon Club of America, its members and supporters. In fact, there was only a handful of balloonists in the country, and we had the majority. Significantly, of the three women balloon pilots in the U.S., two of them, Connie Wolf and Eleanor Vadala, were connected to the Balloon Club of America. Some of the BCA members were also members of the Aero Club of Pennsylvania which you, too, can join! Besides being the hot bed of aviation innovation in America, Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley was the only place in the United States in the early 1950s where the sport of lighter-than-air or gas bag ballooning was operational through the Balloon Club of America, its members and supporters. In fact, there was only a handful of balloonists in the country, and we had the majority. Significantly, of the three women balloon pilots in the U.S., two of them, Connie Wolf and Eleanor Vadala, were connected to the Balloon Club of America. Some of the BCA members were also members of the Aero Club of Pennsylvania which you, too, can join! 

Visit the Aero Club's Ballooning History Exhibit where their members are aviation enthusiasts in their presentation of this history, meet some local balloon pioneers, including Eleanor who is now 94 years old. Be there for the inflation of Connie's balloon that she donated to the Franklin Institute and is here at the Chester County Balloon festival on loan!

N300WM is a Piccard Hot-Air Balloon, designed and owned by Constance "Connie" Wolf (1905 ñ 1994). She had it built to commemorate the 300th anniversary of William Penn's Great Experiment as he called it - The City of Philadelphia, 1682-1982. Connie designed it to be sky blue; thus its name "Blue Bell". It has two twenty-foot profiles of William Penn on its sides. The Chester County Balloon Festival is thrilled to collaborate with the Franklin Institute to shine a light on the sport of ballooning, the science and the people behind it.

For more info on these women, go to the attached links. https://hsmcpa.org/index.php/component/k2/item/104-sick-of-the-russians

Eleanor Vadala - An Extraordinary Ordinary Woman!

To meet her, Eleanor Vadala is such a pleasant and unassuming lady. She seems such an ordinary woman, and you'd never know otherwise unless you've been informed by someone else or have a keen eye and ear for clues to therest of her story - such as the lovely, original art work on her walls!From humble beginnings in New Jersey and Philadelphia, working her waythrough Juniata College, to lofty achievements - both literally and figuratively - Eleanor has lived a fascinating, adventuresome life.

Her college years were interrupted from 1943-1945, to work at Kellett Aircraft Co, manufacturing aircraft parts. Following her graduation in 1947 she worked at the Franklin Institute, a museum devoted to science and technology before STEM. It was here she developed her lifelong interest in astronomy, joining the Rittenhouse Astronomy Society and serving for many years as Treasurer or Secretary, and then as President. In 1957 she was partof the Moon Watch Team at the Franklin Institute to watch and record the orbit of the Russian Satellite-Sputnik.

It was at the Franklin Institute where Eleanor met Tony Fairbanks, a charter member of the Balloon Club of America (BCOA), the only one of its kind in1952. Her first balloon flight was on January 9, 1954, the anniversary of Pierre Blanchard's very First Air Voyage in America in 1793. She was captivated! It was a memorable flight with a gentle landing "like one of the snowflakes" in a picturesque "Currier and Ives" scene among deer that continued eating, undisturbed by the quiet landing. In 1963 Eleanor became the third woman in America to hold a FAA issued Balloon Pilot Certificate.The second certified female balloon pilot was Connie Wolf, a founding member of BCOA and a woman Eleanor remembers as a "generous bon vivant." 

Eleanor Vadala later worked as Director in the research and development of synthetic laminated materials for aircraft applications at the Naval Air Development Department, first at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, and then at Warminster, PA. She was a trained operator of the Instron Machine developed by the Navy to "spec" laminated light weight material for use in aircraft.

In 1967, in commemoration of their 50th Anniversary, the Philadelphia Navy Yard asked Eleanor to organize a gas balloon launch. With Eleanor as the pilot-in-command of La Coquette, the same balloon flown in the film "Around the World in Eighty Days," it was "a lady flying a lady!" Not just a Lady, but also a Princess! On one of her European flights she was dubbed Princess Von Satskommergut by Alfred Eckert, a famous German pilot. An early and dedicated member of the Balloon Club of America, Eleanor has given much to promote the sport of ballooning.  She did presentations about ballooning to schools and other organizations and served as an instructor in hot air balloons. When the Balloon Federation of America was first formed in1961 she served as the unofficial secretary.

And there are several other chapters in her life as well!

Chemist, engineer, astronomer, artist, balloonist, instructor - Eleanor Vadala's story is a remarkable one for such an ordinary lady! 

Stop by the "pop-up" History Museum at the Chester County Hot Air Balloon Festival next weekend, and you just might have a chance to meet her!

To learn more about the Aero Club of Pa www.aeroclubpa.org

 

The Blue Balloon That Flew But Once

98 ballooning history displayThe late Constance Wolf of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, was in love with ballooning. Over the years Connie shared her joy with the city of Philadelphia. One such occasion was a cold January morning in 1982.

Connie decided to recognize the 300th anniversary of the founding of Philadelphia with a balloon flight. She contracted with Piccard Balloons to build a 75,000 cu. ft. hot air balloon. The balloon’s fabric color was specified to be a dark sky blue. On opposite sides of this beautiful balloon would be twenty foot tall depictions of William Penn, the man who received a Land Grant from the King of England. The name of this tract of land became known as Pennsylvania or “Penns Woods.”

The author of this article had the privilege to unpack and assemble the William Penn balloon on the front yard of Philadelphia Mayor William J. Green. The balloon tethered twenty feet over the mayor’s home as a special introduction to ballooning for the mayor and his family. And, to assure that the system was airworthy for the scheduled flight over the city.

Mayor Green presented Connie with a rare Lenox The Patriots Bowl 1776- 1976, appropriately engraved in appreciation, as a gift from the city of Philadelphia.

On January 9, 1982, the William Penn balloon was inflated, appropriately, at Penns Landing, Philadelphia. The bridge which can be seen behind the William Penn balloon is the Ben Franklin bridge which stretches from Philadelphia to New Jersey.

After a telephone call to the Philadelphia Airport Control Tower for clearance, the balloon lifted skyward. In the basket were Connie Wolf and Richard Hess, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Level flight was reached at a low 2,000 feet above the ground as a layer of thick clouds were spread in the sky above.

Gathering clouds, biting cold, and an unexpected snow squall resulted in a descent to a gentle landing in a school yard in Delran, New Jersey. The flight lasted a brief 51 minutes.

Connie’s husband, Alfred L. Wolf, followed the balloon in his single-engine Cessna airplane. A family friend snapped photographs of the blue balloon against the white sky.

It was a glorious event. A gracious gift to the city of Philadelphia. An event of importance in the history of modern day ballooning. An example of the generosity and the uniqueness that was Connie Wolf.

This story has an ending that is as unique as the flight from Penns Landing. The ending is similar to the final moments of the movie, Raiders of the Lost Arc. The William Penn balloon was donated to the Franklin Institute and Science Museum of Philadelphia. The blue balloon was to be carefully placed, somewhere in storage. Never to be inflated. Never to again lift into the morning sky.

The flight of the William Penn was a unique adventure. A fun time for those who participated as crew, for those who watched the lift-off from Penns Landing. Connie Wolf loved ballooning. Connie Wolf gave us special memories.

by Michael Fairbanks, Copyright © 1996 Balloon Life. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

All Info about Chester County Balloon Festival

  • Festival Events Schedule

    Schedule is subject to change, please come back to this page regularly for updated info. Friday June 21st 4:00PM Gates Open, hay wagon shuttle begins, Vendors open for lunch Balloon Flight Sales...
  • Outside Unlimited Beer Garden

    Stop by the Outside Unlimited Beer Garden for an opportunity to try some of the craft beer industry’s best beer. The beer garden is located near the food trucks. Please refer to the festival...
  • Free Admission for Morning Balloon Launches

    On Saturday and Sunday morning during the Chester County Balloon Festival we plan on launching balloons starting at 5:30AM. Admission and parking is free. Be sure to arrive early so that you don’t miss...
  • Kid Zone

    Sponsored by the Future Aviator Camp instructor again this year, the Kids Zone is an interactive experience exhibit including flight simulators, remote control airplane simulators, aircraft...
  • Landowner Appreciation Raffle! A Thank You To Our Landowners

    Victory is changing ballooning traditions we hope forever in Chester County! Share Victory not champagne! Welcome a balloon to your land in your yard. Lay white sheets in form of an ”X” to let the...
  • Area Attractions and Accommodations

    Experience Chester County and the unique and historic Delaware Valley Region from the ground up! Whether you are local or a visitor, we welcome you to be a tourist in our town – let the Festival...
  • Festival Bands

    Please check back in the coming months for updated band schedule for 2019. See Festival Events Schedule for times and days.
  • Learn to Ride a Harley Davidson Motorcycle

    Brandywine Harley-Davidson, located in Chadds Ford, PA has the ultimate test ride experience for non-riders. Our Jumpstart is a unique and innovative tool that puts guests in the saddle of a running...
  • Ballooning History Display

    Besides being the hot bed of aviation innovation in America, Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley was the only place in the United States in the early 1950s where the sport of lighter-than-air or...
  • Franklin Institute Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Moon Walk at Balloon Festival

    The Franklin Institute conjunction with the Chester County Balloon Festival is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the moon walk by hand on work shops on the sciences behind it.The Franklin...
  • RC Airplane Show + Candy Drop!

    Annual RC plane demo presented by the Malchione Family.
  • Monster Truck Rides

    This year at the Chester County Balloon Festival you will be able to take a Monster Truck Ride around the Flying Field! Visit them at KRS Motorsports
  • KnockerBall

    KnockerBall is coming to the Chester County Balloon Festival! Knockerball™ is a single chamber inflatable sphere with inner handles and adjustable shoulder straps.  Knockerballs™ range from 1.2...
  • WGK Glass Art

    WGK Glass Art’s aim is to combine art and functionality to reach a wide spectrum of customers worldwide.  The exceptional craftsmanship and the wonderful details in its work make the pieces of this...
  • Helicopter Rides

    We fly and instruct in Robinson Helicopters, one of the most popular manufacturers of training helicopters in the world! We offer tours of the New Jersey shore points, as well as tours of...
  • Festival Facts

    What is the Chester County Balloon Festival? The Chester County Balloon Festival is a non-profit event with the proceeds going to the Chester County Hero Fund and several other local community...
  • Festival Safety

    The Chester County Balloon Festival pilots and their crews, want everyone at the festival to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Here is some important information and safety tips for spectators. Safety...