New Castle News

Local News

July 26, 2013

Photos, Video, Story: Local man checks off bucket list item with balloon flight

NEW CASTLE — An opportunity to check an item off your bucket list doesn’t happen every day.

For Art Hautala, yesterday was a day that he got to check something from his. An item on his list was to ride in a hot air balloon.

Thanks to Louis Merryman, Hautala and his daughter, Ashley, got to take a balloon ride from Wilmington High School to Neshannock High School.

Hautala said hot air balloons always sparked his interest. Seeing them always made him wonder what it would be like to go up in one, and even the process behind it.

Merryman has been piloting hot air balloon rides since 1996. From out of town shows to the annual Balloon Quest, Merryman said taking out the balloon has always been a fun way to spend time with his family.

While Merryman and his family prepared the balloon for takeoff, Hautala said he was feeling no nerves.

“If I’ve been on C-130’s 30,000 feet up in Vietnam, I think I can handle this,” he said.

C-130 is an aircraft used for military transport.

Hautala, his daughter, Ashley, and Merryman took flight shortly after 7 p.m. On the ground, Merryman’s family communicated with him via walkie-talkie to help him determine a safe place to land.

Their landing occurred just behind Neshannock High. Hautala’s first reaction upon landing, he shouted, “I loved it!”

Smiling in excitement after the ride, he said he would do it again in a heartbeat.

“It was well worth it,” he said. “You’re not that high, it’s just peaceful up there.”

He said their trip was smooth, and that the whole experience was like a gift. Hautala said he understands why Merryman’s been doing this for so many years after he got his chance to take a ride.

“Ashley loved it, too,” he said. “It was better than any Cedar Point ride any day.”

After the team packed the balloon back into the trailer, Merryman gathered everyone together for a traditional toast with champagne.

Merryman, his balloon, and his crew will all be present at this year’s Balloon Quest at Scotland Meadows Park. The event kicks off this evening with “Balloon Glow.”

He said he will be there as earlier as 6 a.m. over the weekend and that rides in the morning are unlike any other.

For Merryman, the ride was just another notch on his belt but for Hautala it was a valuable check for his bucket list.


Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local News
  • Pride.tiff New Castle Schools: Second-grader recognized for reading 200 books

    Alexandra Browne of New Castle could very well be Lawrence County’s youngest bookworm. The petite, curly-haired 8-year-old was summoned to the New Castle school board meeting Monday with her parents, Rochelle and Ted Browne, to receive the district’s Pride and Promise award for April.

    April 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Hilcorp a partner in vo-tech shale course

    A shale drilling company’s contribution to the vo-tech school will help fund a curriculum for careers in that field.

    April 19, 2014

  • 01.jpg Photo Gallery: Church’s tradition of Easter countdown continues

    Easter is keenly anticipated by Christians around the globe. But perhaps nowhere is its arrival more heralded than at Independent Methodist Church.

    April 18, 2014 11 Photos

  • Lawrence county receives state grant

    Lawrence County will receive state funding to update its comprehensive plan. The county will receive $47,000, in the form of a Municipal Assistance Grant, from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, according to state Sen. Elder J. Vogel.

    April 18, 2014

  • Mahoning Township sets spring cleanup

    Mahoning Township will have its spring cleanup the weeks of April 28 and May 5. Residents should place items at the curb the day before their scheduled collection. They should be neatly bagged or bundled.

    April 18, 2014

  • Vo-Skills.jpg VoTech team claims silver medal state honors

    The Lawrence County Career and Technical Center boasts a team of disciplined, well-spoken winners. The school’s SkillsUSA team, comprised of 21 students, stood against other schools from throughout Pennsylvania last week in Hershey.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Columbia Gas announces pipeline replacement work

    Columbia Gas has scheduled a pipeline replacement project for New Castle. Beginning this month, the company will replace approximately 2,800 feet of existing steel pipe along Eastbrook and Paper Mill roads and Cascade Street. The project is expected to be completed in July.

    April 17, 2014

  • ESB Financial reports earnings increase

    ESB Financial Corp., parent company of ESB Bank, has announced an increase in earnings for the quarter ended March 31.

    April 17, 2014

  • Author.tiff Arthur the author: Children’s writer/illustrator visits Neshannock Elementary

    A story about a grandmother and her granddaughter flying over a city grew from the vivid imagination of children’s author Arthur Dorros. “Abuela” also spurred the creativity of students at Neshannock Memorial Elementary School who had eagerly awaited a visit from Dorros yesterday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Greer House changes name

    Greer House, a provider of assisted living services and care to seniors, has unveiled its new name. “We are thrilled about our new name — Clen-Moore Place,” said executive director Susan Leise, “because it better reflects our commitment to provide a vibrant environment where our residents thrive each and every day.

    April 16, 2014