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BOISE -- The vibrant colors and giant shapes of hot air balloons grab most of the attention at the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.

But getting those balloons inflated and up in the air takes the work of many hands.

For crew chief Rob Ryerson and members of the Spencer Air team, the day begins early. They're racing against the sun to get the balloon ready for launch.

"We know about how long it takes," Ryerson said. "Our job is to be ahead of the timetable."

That timetable was complicated Friday by a tangled balloon, which the chase crew carefully unfurled in the dark.

"What an exciting morning, you guys - how many times do we get to open this up and have it be a Chinese puzzle?" he joked. "Just a little patience, a little untwisting and we got it."

Pilot Laurie Spencer said she has to rely on her crew for a successful flight.

"Everything is done: They work very hard," she said of the crew. "We rely so much on them. They chase us when we fly, and we're there when we land."

Finally, the "Dawn Treader" is inflated and lifting into the air. Spectators gathered in Ann Morrison Park to watch the air fill with color.

But the crew's work is not done. In addition to getting the balloon ready to fly, Ryerson and Spencer Air have to be there when it lands. That can be unpredictable, Ryerson said.

"You watch your balloon. If you can stay ahead of them a little bit, that's good," Ryerson said. "The winds in Boise are very subtle, and at 100 feet change in altitude, you can change direction 180 degrees."

Most days, the crew gives chase in a truck, watching the sky to see where the balloon will land. But they caught a break Friday: the "Dawn Treader" settled to the ground not far from the spot it took off.

For more information about the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic, click here.

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