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Students get lesson about defying gravity (w/video)

By Carolina Astrain
April 16, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated April 15, 2014 at 11:16 p.m.

Making  mock binoculars with her hands, a student at Trinity Episcopal School looks up at the seven-story-tall RE/MAX hot air balloon piloted by Steve Lombardi. The balloon was staged as a demonstration to illustrate the study of science and how a hot air balloon works.

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Tyler Ybarbo, 8, dropped his jaw as a hot air balloon rose in front of him.

"Look, it's starting to lose air," said Tyler.

The Trinity Episcopal School first-grader sat among 243 of his fellow classmates on the school's athletic field Wednesday morning listening as Capt. Steve Lombardi explained the science behind the aircraft.

"I've traveled all over the state doing this," said Lombardi, RE/MAX of Texas aviation director. "It's a lot of fun; I love doing this."

Lombardi was invited by local RE/MAX Realtor Al Kopecky and his wife, Elizabeth, who have two children attending Trinity.

Kopecky and his wife are both Trinity alumni.

"We couldn't have asked for better weather," Kopecky, 41, said. "We plan on doing this at other schools - public and private."

Flames shot out from the burner, which generates the heat that makes the balloon airborne.

A light wave of heat pressed on the students' faces.

Pilar Flores, a Trinity eight-grader, arrived early to help Lombardi and Kopecky inflate the balloon.

"It's really neat watching the flames going inside of it," said Pilar, 13, standing about 3 feet away from the aircraft. "You can feel it all the way from here."

Michael Brown, Trinity principal, thanked the Kopecky family for donating the hot air balloon presentation to the school.

"We're very grateful for their help," Brown said.

After Lombardi and his crew deflated the balloon, Trinity student Avery Belew, 8, walked over to touch the gondola.

"It was in midair," Avery, 8, said. "I learned that hot air weighs less than cold air."

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