Great Plains Balloon Club History ~ The Beginning... 

Before there was the Great Plains Balloon Club, there was the Great Plains Huff 'n Puff - Topeka's First Annual Hot Air Balloon Rally.  It took place on the Kansas State Capitol Grounds in downtown Topeka June 17-21, 1976.  Dreamed up by Chuck Tantillo and Chuck Klein, 18 Kansas and Missouri balloonists were registered for the event that was sponsored by Downtown Topeka in celebration of America's Bicentennial.  After it all started off with a street dance, races for the Huff 'n Puff  included Hare & Hound, an 'Antique Car Race', the Governor's Cup, and a leaf picking competition.  

This is the original press release announcing Huff & Puff to Topeka.

Page 1 of the article that appeared in 'Topeka Magazine' in June of 1976.

Page 2 of the article that appeared in 'Topeka Magazine' in June of 1976.


Chuck Tantillo and Chuck Klein flew Candy Cane at the first rally.

In 1977 the Topeka Balloon Club was formed and elected it's first set of Officers.  Mike Blodgett: President, Lee Benson: Vice President, Ruth Scholl: Secretary, Joel Burrow: Treasurer, Holly Blodgett and Chuck Tantillo: Pilot Technical Advisors, Chuck Klein: Public Relations Coordinator, Glenda Lamme: Rally Coordinator, Karen Mitchell: Historian, and Haddie Grant: Quarter Master.  Huff 'n Puff was moved to September 1-4 and was again held in downtown Topeka.

In 1978 the Topeka Balloon Club was dubbed itself 'The International Association for the Advancement of Hot Air Ballooning in Kansas, printed it's first membership list and produced the first Topeka Balloon Club Newsletter.  Huff 'n Puff's last year at the Capitol Grounds took place August 17-20, 1978.

Jonathan, Ring of Fire, and Firebird promoting Huff 'n Puff

Glenda Lamme, Mike Blodgett, & Chuck Klein


Gene and Nancy Echols with their brand new balloon 'Aquarius'

Huff 'n Puff 1978

A 'balloon syndicate' was formed by Paul Costello, Lee Benson, and Ruth Scholl








1977 1978 In 1979, the Huff 'n Puff moved to Washburn University.  Here Balloonmeister Gene Brown, Glenda Lamme, Ruth Scholl, and Paul Costello are discussing the upcoming events.



1979 1979 Ruth Scholl, Gene Brown, and Paul Costello pose for a picture after another successful rally!


In 1980 Jim Thiele built Topeka's first special shape balloon, 'Double Dip'. The cables that supported the basket ran all the way up to the top of the cone. With the cone consisting of hanging fabric and no structural support, the wind distorted it until the balloon began moving with the wind.













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