(archive press release)
The Launch of Freedom Flight I
November 11th, 1989

Jim Tourilla 1st Freedom Flight Launch

An new all-black hot air balloon emblazoned with three 30' high POW/MIA logos was christened at a special Veterans Day 1989 ceremony held on the grounds of the Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA.

High winds delayed the balloon's inaugural flight over St. Cloud until
November 14, when the balloon, flown by the four pilots who are the founding board members of Freedom Flight Inc., the non-profit corporation which owns and operates
the balloon, launched at the St. Cloud airport and landed on the edge of town near the VAMC.

The first passenger was World War II, European theater, ex-prisoner of war, Henry Sha, who saw the balloon flying over town while on his way to the VAMC to do volunteer work. He stopped when the balloon landed on the 74 year old ex-POW was invited on board for a hop. Dressed in coat and tie, he climbed in without a moment hesitation, forgetting to lock his car and turn off the lights in his excitement.

According to Henry, "This balloon is well worth all the time and effort it took to get it."

To see a listing of events CLICK HERE 
To go to the photo gallery CLICK HERE 
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