Over the years, the IMTS balloon has become an icon recognized and loved by the IMTS community the world over. The balloon made its inaugural flight in 2004 as the big purple IMTS balloon. In 2008, the balloon got a makeover and became the Big Orange IMTS balloon we know today. Once again, the time has come to search for a new look, but not without a proper send off.

This year, the IMTS balloon embarked on a farewell tour through nine cities across the United States that gave the IMTS community the opportunity to get up close and personal with the industry icon. A contest was held in each city to win a ride in the IMTS balloon. Entries poured in from all over and a few lucky winners in each city got the chance to fly. 

AMT and IMTS were thrilled to provide this once-in-a-lifetime experience to the IMTS community. Paul Dembek, Barnes Aerospace, wrote back, “Rode the IMTS balloon at Stowe last weekend! Wow, what a ride.” 

Bob and Alison Arrighi of Union Tool and Mold Company, shared in the excitement. “My husband and I would just like to thank you for the wonderful balloon ride we enjoyed on Friday, July 24, 2015,” said Alison.  “Somehow you even arranged for perfect weather and super clear, calm skies!”

Tom Wittekind, The Tooling Support Group, won the contest in Albuquerque, N.M., and gave the ride to his wife and daughter, who described the ride as “honestly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”

Along the way, the IMTS balloon competed in competitions and races, coming in third place in the Great Galena Balloon Race. With great weather for the vast majority of the events, it was an all-around great farewell tour.

We at AMT are excited for the next chapter of the IMTS balloon’s story and recommend keeping an eye on the sky at IMTS 2016, Sept. 12 - 17.