The official site of the Whiskey-Hill, Atherton, Menlo Oaks Ballooning and Sporting Society
WHAMOBASS, founded in 1965, is the longest continuously-run balloon rally in the world. It has been held every November since its founding, moving from location to location for many years, and then finally settling in Coalinga, California, on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. WHAMOBASS was founded by Deke Sonnichsen, who ran the event until 2000, and who continues to participate in its annual activities.
The members of the invitation-only event gather to float hot-air balloons and other contrivances in the morning skies. Typical turn-out for a WHAMOBASS is about 30 balloons.
Click on the film frame to watch an interview with WHAMOBASS founder, Deke Sonnichsen. In the interview, Deke tells the history of WHAMOBASS, and talks about some of his experiences flying in various California towns.
Balloonist-members of the elite, and semi-secret Society come from nearby, and from far-away locations like Fort Doge, Iowa; Lima, Ohio; and even Paris, France.
Included in each year's event are pre-dawn flights by balloonists who are specially-certified for “dawn patrol” operations. They launch in darkness, carrying special lights, and they fly until after the sun rises. Their balloons look lovely in the darkness when the burners are ignited.
The governing body of WHAMOBASS is the Paciifc Coast Aeronauts, whose members continue to support and promote the event, and whose endless hours of work make the event possible. This site is run by Brian Lawler and Stacy Bartlett for fun and to be sure that WHAMOBASS is documented adequately.
This web site is always under construction.
Updated on Sunday, May 11, 2008
Balloons float over the field in Coaling Station A on Sunday, November 18, 2007. There were 36 balloons in flight that morning.