ClovisFest Hot Air Balloon Pilots Ready for Action

Pilot Bob Locklin, also known as “Magic Bob,” heats up his balloon and gets ready to take flight.

Any and every Hot Air Balloon Pilot seems to have not only the passion to fly, but also the passion to please others as was made evident by Hot Air Balloon Pilot, Bob “Magic” Locklin.

Locklin will serve as Balloon Meister for the Clovis Fest Hot Air Balloon celebration both Saturday and Sunday of Clovis Fest, September 24th and 25th.

At this portion of the celebration, balloon fanatics and families alike will have the opportunity to watch how Hot Air Balloons are inflated, as well as be given the possibility for a tethered ride in which the balloon itself will go up as high as one hundred feet while being tied in place.

During the Clovis Chamber of Commerce’s “Wake Up Clovis” zoom call, Balloon Meister “Magic” Bob was asked questions regarding everything from balloons to how he got that nickname.

A magician for 20 plus years, Locklin was once brought out to stage as “Magic” Bob, and the name stuck.

With 25 years of balloon flying experience, it was a “lock” that “Magic” would be asked to be Balloon Meister, not only does he have the experience, he has been in charge of the Balloon events in Clovis for 20 years.

“We like to get people involved and show off and show them how it works. At ClovisFest we invite people over to look at the basket, let them get pictures, things like that….For many people, the first time they see it, they can’t believe how big these balloons are.”

And that seems to be the more important side to getting people out to support the ballooning aspect of ClovisFest. For $10-15, spectators are allowed to ride in balloons to “get a feel” for what it’s like to be in the balloon.

“You get a good chance to feel it, and the kids love it.”

Locklin does warn however for the younger children that the burners that fill the balloon may be a bit loud when doing their work.

Locklin then made sure to let it be known that each Hot Air Balloonist’s aircraft must be built each and every time it is to be put to use. This calls for the help of multiple hands, at least three per balloon, and preferably five to six.

“Anybody who’s interested in [ballooning] at all, tell them to come out and volunteer. We’ll have them come to the pilot’s meeting, because we can always use the help. We’ll teach you right on the spot,” said Locklin.

President of the Clovis Chamber of Commerce Greg Newman, acting as moderator between “Magic” Bob and the zoom spectators noted that the balloon experience is a fun experience, especially the opportunity for the tethered ride.

And with the addition of the “breakfast of balloonists” – champagne – “Magic” Bob relayed the information that champagne is merely a longstanding form of tradition on Hot Air Balloons.

“It started in 1783 when the first few guys to fly Hot Air Balloons came down to land, people didn’t know what these things were. So they started attacking.”

In order to calm the would-be attackers, Hot Air Balloonists would tie bottles of champagne to the bottom of their wicker baskets in order to keep the peace.

If you would like to see Hot Air Balloonists at work first hand, you can have a front row seat at this year’s ClovisFest. You can embark in all there is to offer from a Hot Air Balloon at the celebration this September 24th-25th.

JT is a recent college grad with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. He is mainly interested in sports and entertainment but covers a wide array of subjects. He currently writes for the Fresno State Baseball Dugout Club. JT looks forward to continuing his career at the Clovis Roundup and is excited to be working closely with a community that is very proud of its people.