solberg airport

How to see balloon fest from new lens

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 6/27/17

Most Central Jerseyans who have flocked to the QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning have eagerly crowded the fence at sunrise and sunset to watch over 300 balloons ascend over Solberg Airport.

However, not many of them have gotten the chance to see the balloons from the sky or from behind that fence in a behind-the-scenes experience at the festival, which is the largest hot air balloon and music festival in North America being held for the 25th year from Friday, July 28 through Sunday, July 30.

But, for those who are handy with a camera, there is a way for them to get a unique view of the colorful balloon ascension — through Fairfield camera and video superstore Unique Photo’s photography workshop being held on each morning of the festival.

“Anyone can go to the balloon festival and take pictures, but we are looking to give people access to the shots that they normally couldn’t get,” said Scott Farestad, vice president of Unique Photo. “We take photos of the balloons ascending and the pilots blasting this inferno into the balloons which makes for some amazing imagery.”

~Courtesy of Unique Photo

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Pilot your own travel with aviation lessons at Solberg Airport

While I was stuck at the airport last week brooding over a missed flight and praying that I would make it onto my next flight with my standby status, I had an idea: What if, instead of having to depend on unreliable commercial airlines, overbooked flights and missed connections, I could become a private pilot and go wherever — and whenever — I wanted to go?

Obviously, I’m not the only one who has thought of this genius idea. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), last year, a little over 47,000 people become aviation students.

This year, about 15 of them will become certified private pilots at Solberg Airport in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington’s Cessna Pilot Center Flight School, which has been training aspiring pilots since 1939.

“Flying expands your horizons, increases your radius and presents you with a whole new world,” said Gabi DiSanza, flight instructor at Solberg Airport who has been flying for six years and has about 530 hours of flight time. “Next week, I’m going to Cape Cod and Boston with a student within three hours. That isn’t a trip I could make in a car.”

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