Oggopogo the dragon is a show-stopper at festivals.
by Matt Schroeder
Local residents who may have seen a dragon at the 60-Acres Soccer Fields a few weeks ago can rest assured that they are neither crazy nor in danger of being eaten.
Oggopogo the dragon, Oggie for short, is a hot air balloon co-owned by Washington residents Ken Williams and Ron Martin. The custom-designed balloon is 138 feet high, made from 175,000 cubic feet of rip-stop nylon, and cost its owners $75,000 to create. The 60-Acres' appearance was one of the first flights of the new balloon.
Williams and Martin commissioned Aerostar, a Michigan-based balloon company, to create their custom design. Computer designs and clay models were made of of the dragon to make sure the design was viable. Finally, Oggie was sewn together and shipped back to the Northwest.
With a carrying capacity of five people, the dragon requires a chase crew of 10 to deflate it. Oggie has 34 different deflation ports throughout the body, including horns, nostrils and down the spine.
Not available for rental trips, Oggie was created as a rally balloon. Rally balloons are made to show at festivals, which pay for the unique shapes.
Why would anyone go through all the expense and trouble? Ken Williams does it because "ballooning is for the kid in all of us."