Anyone who woke up early on Saturday morning would have seen a hot air balloon over the Westerlo area that has never passed before. So it was the maiden flight of Olean balloonists Bart Geeraerts and Kevin Van Dessel’s brand new 3-building wood-frame balloon. “Now you will be seeing this balloon more often. The demand for balloon flights has increased.”
Bart and Kevin are the heartbeat of the Rabbits Ballooning Team. A well known name in the world of Kempen balloons. For years they flew with the wasps. Two balloons with yellow and black stripes. Even better known is the Funny Bunny, a ‘special shape’ of the rabbit shape. “A few years ago, the interest in balloon flights started to wane and we scaled down our activities somewhat,” says Bart Geeraerts.
“Meanwhile, the wind has figuratively changed and the balloon is rising again. And then we were contacted by Jeff Emants and Paul Vance of Hautscheletbau3bau in Westerlo. The company was looking to sponsor a balloon and was looking for a balloon team to work with. We reached an agreement and a brand new balloon was ordered in the company colors and logo.
At 5 a.m. on Saturday mornings, gatherings were held in a meadow behind 3bouw’s show houses along the Olensweg in Westerlo. “It’s pretty exciting because we’re seeing our balloon for the first time,” says Jeff Imants. “We are convinced that the hot air balloon is still a great way to be visible to many people, including potential customers. We’re already into korfball and basketball and support organizers of local events, but we were looking for something extra.
Rino, one of 3bouw’s employees, is part of the Rabbits ballooning team’s ground crew in his spare time. He brought the parties together. Rabbits Ballooning has made not only a new balloon, but also a brand new trailer carrying the basket, burner, and everything. “The intent is that we blow up the balloon with regular business relationships or employees,” says Paul Wayans. “The balloon team will definitely organize private trips as well. Then we have propaganda.
3bouw has been in wood skeleton construction for almost 18 years. The company builds about 65 houses per year, mainly in the province of Antwerp. The company specializes in energy-neutral manufacturing and employs approximately 35 people for this purpose.