Arts and Entertainment

Fly-In lights up the night

The Starfire balloon crew, captained by Vic Johnson of Covington, lets off a sustained blast during the Hot Air Balloon Night Glow of the Arlington Fly-In July 11. - Kirk Boxleitner
The Starfire balloon crew, captained by Vic Johnson of Covington, lets off a sustained blast during the Hot Air Balloon Night Glow of the Arlington Fly-In July 11.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

ARLINGTON — The Arlington Fly-In marked the weekend of July 11-12 with military vehicle parades, a motorcycle stunt show and aircraft that lit up the night sky.

While the procession of privately owned antique military ground vehicles, many of them dating back to World War II, graced the Arlington Airport's flight line two consecutive afternoons that Friday and Saturday, the Seattle Cossacks Stunt Team appeared on the runway just Friday.

The Cossacks have been around since 1938, making them the oldest motorcycle stunt and drill team in the world, and they formed ever-more elaborate human pyramids on their moving motorbikes.

The Fly-In's Friday also marked the return of a tradition that had been truncated due to high winds last year, as the Hot Air Balloon Night Glow filled the darkness with gouts of flame and inflated but still grounded balloons.

Balloon crews came from across the state, with Whatcom County's Spirits in the Sky, captained by Dave Morgan, and Covington's Starfire, captained by Vic Johnson, trading "popcorn" bursts and extended blasts, many in time to music, but it was the Kinda Ducky balloon, captained by Mandy Johnson of Kent, that drew some of the longest and loudest applause, since this year marked the balloon's final Fly-In.

"Balloons' lives are measured in hours, not years," Johnson said. "If you're taking a balloon out flying every single weekend, you can expect it to last maybe three or four years, but in the Pacific Northwest, where the weather is colder and you're likely to take it out less often, you can get maybe 10 years out of a balloon before it becomes too porous."

While Johnson first began piloting balloons in 1993, she learned how to repair them as early as 1988. Kinda Ducky became the property of Larry Simberger, who also owns Starfire, in 1997, but he let Johnson continue to take Kinda Ducky out for what she deemed "sentimental reasons."

The highlight Saturday was the fireworks air show, sponsored by the Stillaguamish Tribe, in honor of the Oso slide survivors and their supporters.

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