Remembering TV 13’s Hot Air Balloon and Pilot Douglas Mills
There was a time back in the 70s and 80s when you could look to the sky and see a huge hot air balloon floating amongst the clouds. That balloon would have the word "Eyewitness" on one side of it, and "TV 13 News" on the other side.
It was often called "Skywitness", it was WZZM TV 13's balloon that they used to promote their "Eyewitness News". You'd often see the balloon at fairs, festivals and community events. There was usually someone from the on-air staff at TV 13 who would be out with the balloon and taking a ride in the balloon from whatever event they might be at.
The hot air balloon was piloted by Doug Mills who was the chief pilot for Sky High Hot Air Balloons in Caledonia. Mills recently passed away on September 24th after a short fight with cancer. He was 76 years old.
For years WZZM TV 13 even incorporated the hot air balloon in to their station logo.
If you've never been in a hot air balloon, it is quite the experience. Despite the noise when the burners fire up to hear the air, it is amazing how many sounds from the ground you can hear. If you ever get a chance to go up in one -- do it!
Here is a link to watch a video of the inflation of the WZZM TV-13 hot air balloon in Fruitport back in 1985.
Here is a video that Doug Mills did a few years ago to promote TV 13's On Target Weather Forecast...