During the Balloon Launches look for those people on the ground, wearing striped outfits, running around like they’re lost, looking all around them and up into the sky like someone’s after them, making weird hand signals to the Balloon Pilots and talking on radios.
They are a very important part of the launch process. They are the Pilot’s eyes, making sure the airspace above is clear for the launch and that no other balloons are going to launch and interfere with their launch. In short they are the Traffic Cops.
They wear striped shirts, so they will be easily seen by the Pilots. Because they really enjoy what they do, they often augment their uniforms in unique ways.
Because of the striped outfits, the Launch Directors are known among the ballooning community as “Zebras”.
Often you will see another zebra tagging along. They are training to become Zebras and are known as Zebras in Training or ZITs.
Watch for them as they often are as entertaining to see as are the balloons launching. Also, don’t hesitate to thank them for their work; after they’re done of course.