Our 2021 Pilot Lineup!

We are happy to introduce the pilots registered for the 2021 Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival. Not only do we have our local pilots, we have representation from BC through Quebec. We anticipate our international friends from the United States and United Kingdom will be able to participate this year.

Enjoy becoming familiar with the pilots and their balloons so you'll know who is in the sky when we fly. As of August 2021, we have 24 entrants. That number may increase or decrease over the coming weeks as details are finalized. 

servus credit union logo
  • Competitor: #1

  • Pilot: Dale W. Ritchie

  • From: Golden BC

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

HIIBF 2020 - Dale Ritchie

5 Time Canadian Hot Air Balloon Champion

Dale Ritchie has been a licensed balloon pilot since 1978 when he flew for sport, then began flying commercially in 1979. In 43 years of flying, Dale as over 4500 hours in the air noted in his log book. He has balloon licenses in Canada, the United States and United Kingdom and has flown in 8 countries. As a Certified Flight Instructor, Dale has trained many pilots over the years and is a balloon Aircraft Maintenance Engineer.

  • Balloon: Emily

  • Call Letters: C-FJAV

  • Type: Sundance SBA77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - Dale Ritchie: Emily

World Traveller

Emily was built in 2006 and made her inaugural flight in Motegi, Japan at the 2006 World Hot Air Balloon Championship. Over the past 15 years she has flown at a number of festivals and competitions for the last fifteen years. You may recognize Emily as a familiar face from past Festivals in High River.

Discover more about Dale Ritchie's hot air ballooning adventures.

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  • Competitor: #2

  • Pilot: Brant Leatherdale

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

HIIBF 2020 - Brant Leatherdale

Local Flyer

Brant Leatherdale is a pilot from Calgary where he lives with his wife, Tara, and children and is self-employed. Brant mainly flies in Western Canada and has attended major ballooning events in the USA and Mexico. Having attended every Festival since 2013, Brant is looking forward to flying the skies over High River again this year.

  • Balloon: Herbal Magic

  • Call Letters: C-GHER

  • Type: Firefly 8B 15

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - Brant Leatherdale: Herbal Magic

Magic in the Air

Herbal Magic is a familiar sight at the Festival and will be flying once again. The bright green envelope is easy to spot from the ground given its striking contrast against the blue sky.

See more about Brant Leatherdale's wishes for the Festival.

The Foothills Kinettes logo
  • Competitor: #3

  • Pilot: John Phillips

  • From: Parkland County AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

HIIBF 2020 - John Phillips

Director, Producer, Pilot

John Phillips was introduced to hot air ballooning in 1986. After crewing for a year he obtained his license in 1987. He continues to fly recreationally and semi-competitively. A freelance producer, director, technical director and videographer, John has travelled across North America to cover a wide range of sporting events including world championships, the Olympics and Commonwealth Games. He has directed music and variety productions for well-known artists. Recently John has been busy televising Canadian professional rodeos. 

  • Balloon: Purple Haze

  • Call Letters: C-GSTK

  • Type: Aerostar RX7

  • Size (volume): 77500

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - John Phillips: Purple Haze

Mystery of the Sky

Purple Haze returns to fly in the Festival once again.


Learn more about what John Phillips has been up to.

Bearcom logo
  • Competitor: #4

  • Pilot: Cliff Skocdopole

  • From: Condor AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021



Cliff Skocdopole's love of hot air ballooning began with a Father's Day ride in 2009. By early 2010, Cliff received his pilot's license. Cliff has flown in the Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championships as well as the Worlds in 2018. Cliff and Sheri, his wife of 35 years, have travelled to numerous festivals across Canada, the USA and internationally. Cliff loves ballooning for the peaceful times in the air, being at the mercy of the wind, bringing smiles to faces and meeting great people.

  • Balloon: Redee N Willing

  • Call Letters: C-FHIA

  • Type: Sundance SBA90

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Sport


The Red Balloon

Redee N Willing is one of several balloons in Cliff's collection and one of two balloons he will be flying in the Festival this year. Spotting her on the ground and in the sky won't be difficult.

  • Balloon: Northern FLights

  • Call Letters: C-GHOT

  • Type: Kubicek BB26XR

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Racer


Glowing Sky

Northern FLights is the newest hot air balloon in Cliff's collection and one of two balloons flying in the Festival. Also note Northern FLights' slender profile indicative of a racer.


Read more about where Cliff Skocdopole loves to fly.

Sobeys logo
  • Competitor: #5

  • Pilot: Shane Lockyer

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021


Next Generation

Shane Lockyer grew up around hot air balloons with his dad being a pilot as well. Since getting his pilot's license in 2017 he has flown over 200 hours, many of those over High River. Shane is a familiar face at events across western Canada and the United States as both a pilot and crew member. Currently working as an automotive technician, in the near future Shane will be completing his hot air balloon Instructor Rating and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer certification.  

  • Balloon: Fishin'

  • Call Letters: C-FISN

  • Type: Cameron N65

  • Size (volume): 65000

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - Shane-Lockyer: Lil Cameron

Familiar Sight

Fishin' or Lil' Cameron is a familiar sight launching from the High River Balloon Port and heading out over town to the southeast or southwest. The blue, white, and red envelope makes it easy to pick out at the launch field and in the sky.  


See more about Shane Lockyer.

  • Competitor: #6

  • Pilot: Jennifer Podruski

  • From: High River AB

  • Attended: 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

HIIBF 2020 - Jenn Podrusk

Up in the Air

Jenn Podruski was introduced to hot air ballooning when she crewed at the 2014 Festival. The pilot took her up for her first flight and she was hooked. She pursued her pilot's license in 2017 and returned to the Festival as a pilot in 2018. When not on-call as a paramedic, Jenn has flown from various small towns across Alberta as well as Montana, BC and in 2019, the "Super Bowl" of ballooning at the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. In August 2021, Jenn flew in her first competitive event at the Canadian National Championships Quebec. 

  • Balloon: Louie

  • Call Letters: C-FVEN

  • Type: Aerosport RX7

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - Jenn Podruski: Louie

On That Ship, I Dream

Louie and Jenn have been partners in the sky since October 2017. Wave and say "Hi!" when you see the colour splash in the air or at the Balloon Glow.

Learn more about why Jenn Podruski's loves ballooning.

Town of High River logo
  • Competitor: #7

  • Pilot: Jamie Kinghorn

  • From: High River AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021



Jamie Kinghorn caught the "Firefly Bug" on his very first flight in July 1988 and began crewing the next day. Pilot training began in March 1989 and he was signed off as a pilot in May 1989. Jamie has flown in every Canadian Championship since 1992 where he was awarded Rookie of the Year. Ballooning has taken Jamie across Canada and the US as well as Belgium, Japan, and Thailand. The 2013 Heritage Inn Canadian Championship in High River inspired Jamie to continue growing the Festival in High River for years to come. 

  • Balloon: Eye of RA

  • Call Letters: C-GRAA

  • Type: Bill Whalen AX8

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Sport


Eye in the Sky

Eye of RA had a double-first with a first flight and first Festival appearance in 2020. Watch for The Eye in the Sky with a skirt and Firefly basket throughout this year's Festival.


Read more about Jamie Kinghorn's flying adventures.


Pro Image Promotional Products

  • Competitor: #8

  • Pilot: Del Michaud

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021


Mountain Man

Del Michaud is just shy of his piloting golden anniversary of piloting having received his license in 1974. He has competed in several Canadian Balloon Championships and is a former Canadian Balloon Champion. Del's skills are known on the world stage as well. He has flown internationally in 15 countries and represented Canada at 6 World Balloon Championships. Two of Del's most unique ballooning experiences have been flying in the Canadian Rockies and the Swiss Alps.

  • Balloon: Pepe Le Pew

  • Call Letters: C-GXLU

  • Type: Balloon Works FF7B

  • Size (volume): 65000

  • Category: Sport

HIIBF 2020 - Del Michaud: Pepe Le Pew

Flying Romantic

Pepe Le Pew returns to High River once again as the near rainbow in the sky without a raindrop to be seen.


See what else Del Michaud has been up to.

Sun Country 99.7 FM logo
  • Competitor: #9

  • Pilots: Cathy Dudgeon

  • From: High River AB

  • Attended: 2021


New Pilot on the Block

Cathy Dudgeon's love of ballooning began in the 1980's but she focused on career and family until 2013 when the Festival came to High River. Cathy volunteered as a crew member and became hooked all over again. Starting lessons in August 2020, she became a licensed pilot in March 2021. She is excited to achieve her goal of flying in the Festival this year. You may have met Cathy at an Intro to Hot Air Ballooning or Crew Training workshop where she combines her love of teaching and ballooning. Her sights are set now on becoming a flight instructor.

  • Balloon: Maryann's Treat

  • Call Letters: C-FRMN

  • Type: Cameron O-77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


A Dream Come True

Maryann's Treat is named in honour of Cathy's mother, Maryann. With the support of friends, family and the ballooning community, Cathy used the inheritance from her mother to purchase well-used but still well-loved equipment to pursue her dream of learning to fly a balloon. Be sure to note Maryann's Treat call letters so you can identify her in the sky. She is the older twin of another balloon in the Festival.

Learn more about Cathy Dudgeon's flying journey so far.



  • Competitor: #10

  • Pilots: Bill Whalen & Sandra Rolfe

  • From: Vankleek Hill ON

  • Attended: 2014, 2017, 2019, 2020, 2021

HIIBF 2020 - Bill Whalen and Sandra Rolfe


Bill Whelan and Sandra Rolfe are a long time balloonist and life duo who recently married. Bill has been involved in balloon aviation for 40 years and Sandra for 30 years. Sandra is a renowned extreme balloonist, holding 57 Canadian and 3 world records. With Bill in charge of transportation and moral support, Sandra is breaking new records after a devastating stroke in 2015. Told she would never walk or talk again, today Sandra can walk, talk, drive, and fly using accessible devices. Sandra and Bill spread the message Aphasia is a loss of words, not intellect.

  • Balloon: Miss Birdy

  • Call Letters: C-GNGZ

  • Type: Whelan AX8

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Special Shape


No Elephant in the Room

Miss Birdy is the newest Lighten Up Balloon Co creation birthed out of COVID creativity. Her design team completed CAD drawings in 3 days and the process of printing, cutting, and sewing over 1000 pieces began. Miss Birdy first inflated to life in February 2021 and received her Certificate of Airworthiness from Transport Canada in mid-June 2021. To give you a sense of size, the yellow bird atop Miss Birdy's head is about 3 meters high and each leg is made of about 100 meters of fabric. Learn more about Sandra Rolfe and Bill Whalen

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  • Competitor: #11

  • Pilots: Walt & Linda Then

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021


Five Decades of Ballooning

Walt and Linda Then began their hot air ballooning adventures in 1980 when Walt started crewing with the Calgary Balloon Club. Linda started crewing in 1982, the same year Walt got his pilot's license, and received her pilot license in 1990. Over the years, their travels took them to many balloon events. Walt and Linda can be seen at more local events in Alberta these days, including Raven AB every October. The Thens have hosted the Raven Festival for the last 39 years, complete with a spooky costume party .

  • Balloon: Big Toy II

  • Call Letters: C-GTHE

  • Type: Cameron O77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


A Big Toy Box

Big Toy II has flown at the Festival since 2017, replacing her predecessor Big Toy who retired after 30 years of flying.

Learn more about Walt & Linda Then's background and ballooning journey.

Shaw Business logo
  • Competitor: #12

  • Pilot: Richard Clark

  • From: Calgary AB

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021


Fiesta Party

Richard Clark began crewing in 1989 with a fun-loving group in Calgary. The excitement of ballooning led him to get his pilot license in 1992 and fly a Calgary Balloon Club balloon. In 2001, Richard and Heather, his wife, wanted to further their experience by having their own balloon. Richard enjoys the relaxed fun of fiesta flying and views the competition component as a chance to use planning and map reading skills along with team work.  Coming close to a competition target makes for added excitement and fun.

  • Balloon: Our Treat

  • Call Letters: C-FGBY

  • Type: Cameron O77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


Delightful Skies

Our Treat in 2021 is the newest version of the original Our Treat acquired in 2001. The name was chosen based on what a treat is was for Richard and Heather to fly the skies in such a colourful balloon at events across western Canada. Make note of Our Treat's call letters so as not to do a double take with another entry in the Festival.

Learn more about Richard Clark's love of ballooning.

Dream logo
  • Competitor: #13

  • Pilot: Johann-François Quellette Frève

  • From: Longueul QC

  • Attended: 2020, 2021

HIIBF 2020 - Johann-Francois Freve

Freedom Like No Other

Johann-Francois Ouellette-Frève has flown since before he was born. His mother is one of the first female pilots in Quebec and taught his father. Part of a ballooning family, Johann-Francois was familiar as a passenger and crewing at festivals. At 16 he became a student pilot. Johann-Francois's first festival after receiving his pilot's license in 2007 was at the Albuquerque Fiesta.  He has flown more than 30 festivals across America and Europe and wants to fly the world in a balloon. Johann-Francois says the freedom he feels when flying is like none other.

  • Balloon: Red-Y!

  • Call Letters: C-GGKI

  • Type: Sundance B SBA90

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Sport



Red-Y! will look stunning against blue skies flying over High River.

Read more about Johann-François Quellette Frève flying journeys in his young career.

Hitchin Post Drive In
  • Competitor: #14

  • Pilot: Pier Alexandere Marcoux

  • From: Levis QC

  • Attended: 2021


Pilot From the Start

Pier Alexandere Marcoux began crewing at festivals alongside his dad when he was 3 years of age. He remembers telling his parents “One day I will be a hot air balloon pilot". His first ride at the age of 12 was "awesome!" Pier Alexandere started training to be a pilot and became licensed in 2016. Since that time, he has flown in
Albuquerque, the St-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, Québec area, High River, Drumheller,
Glens Falls, and Sussex. He looks forward to many more destinations to come.

  • Balloon: Au-delà du rêve / Beyond The Dream

  • Call Letters: C-GIVG

  • Type: Ultramagic H-77

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


Dream Bold

Beyond the Dream was purchased by Pier Alexandere in 2017. When you see Beyond the Dream in the sky, be reminded of always going beyond your dreams to live your best life.

Learn more about Pier Alexandere Marcoux's life of ballooning

TKWPC logo
  • Competitor: #15

  • Pilot: Tommy Quevillon

  • From: Vankleek Hill ON

  • Attended: 2021


Open Roads and Skies

Tommy Quevillon is the transportation guy - a trucker by day and pilot by night. His love of flying hot air balloons reaches back to June 2014 when he began crewing for Bill Whelan. Tommy started studying for his pilot's license in 2018 and celebrated becoming a licensed pilot in early July. Fun fact - Vankleek Hill was named the Gingerbread Capital of Ontario in 2003. Not for the cookie, but the decorative elements on over 250 Victorian era homes in town.

  • Balloon: Gavy the Alien

  • Call Letters: C-GAVY

  • Type: Whelan AX7

  • Size (volume):  77000

  • Category: Experimental


Alien Invasion 2.0

Gavy first flew the skies over High River in 2020 and returns with a new pilot at the helm, err burner.

Learn more about Tommy Quevillon's adventures travelling roads and skies.

  • Competitor: #16

  • Pilot: Scott "Scooter" Beaton

  • From: High River AB

  • Attended: 2019, 2020, 2021


Captain Crunch

Scooter's first flight happened during Little Britches Day in May 1980. The action packed flight (no details given) hooked him on the sport. By October 1980, Scott was a licensed pilot. He was a founding member of the Foothills Balloon Events Association, and with the Calgary Balloon Club, pulled off bringing the 1982 Canadian National Hot Air Balloon Championships to High River - with less than 4 months to go before the event. As part of that event, Scott planted the seeds for the Heritage Inn relationship that continues today.

  • Balloon: GONZO

  • Call Letters: C-GZOY

  • Type: Balloon Works F6B

  • Size (volume): 65000

  • Category: Sport


Light Up the Sky

GONZO will be the bright yellow spot in the sky.

Learn about when Scott Beaton became the original Captain Crunch.

  • Competitor: #17

  • Pilot: Pierre Cyr

  • From: Fort-Coulonge QC

  • Attended: 2021


Aviation Meets Navigation

Pierre Cyr had his first balloon ride at a "Festivant" in 2001 where he was the Aviation Weather Briefer. Years later he tried ballooning with Bill Whelan and it was love by 50' in the air. Ballooning was the perfect passion to combine aviation knowledge and navigation skills from the Navy. Pierre began pilot training in 2013 and received his pilot's license in 2015. Wanting to develop his skills and experience, Pierre received his Instructor Rating and Aircraft Maintenance Engineer certification in 2020. He has flown 16 balloons over 140 hours in the air.

  • Balloon: Whizz Dom

  • Call Letters: C-GPXU

  • Type: Aerostar S60A

  • Size (volume): 105000

  • Category: Sport 


Westard Travels

Whizz Dom and Pierre Cyr both are making their first appearance at an event in western Canada.

Read more about Pierre Cyr's aviation career and how it intersected with ballooning.

  • Competitor: #18

  • Pilot: Garry Lockyer

  • From: Oliver BC

  • Attended: 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021


The Official Pilot

Garry Lockyer has logged 1700 hours in the air since becoming a hot air balloon pilot in 1978. A competitive flyer, he has flown in several Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championships, crowned Canadian Champion in 1986, as well as North American and World Hot Air Balloon Championships. Garry also contributes to the sport as a competition official, officiating and being the Event Director at numerous events nationally and internationally across the years. For many years he represented Canada on the world governing body FAI.

  • Balloon: Cotton Candy

  • Call Letters: C-GSOK

  • Type: Ultramagic Z-90

  • Size (volume): 90000

  • Category: Sport


Eye Candy

Cotton Candy's bright colours and distinctive chevron pattern will be easy to spot in the sky.

Read more about Garry Lockyer's competitive flying and officiating.

Inclusion Foothills logo
  • Competitor: #19

  • Pilot: Alain Bard

  • From: Ottawa ON

  • Attended: 2021


Lifelong Flyer

Alain Bard's has been a flying enthusiast all his life. Building model aircraft and kites as a young boy turned into building hot air balloons and baskets from scratch. His 4 special shapes designs are a rocket ship, Christmas deer, polar bear, and tiger. Alain is licensed to pilot paragliders, power paragliders, and since 2009, hot air balloons. In addition to flying many festivals across Canada and the US, Alain has flown in Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Taiwan, Philippines and New Zealand. 

  • Balloon: Alien Rocket

  • Call Letters: C-FIIY

  • Type: Bard Balloons

  • Size (volume): 65000

  • Category: Special Shape

Green and black rocket ship balloon shape

Fan's Choice

Alien Rocket is the special shape chosen by fans to compete in 2021's Festival. For anyone who might be concerned, this is a friendly alien invasion. Since the inaugural flight in 2016, it has flown and ignited childhood dreams in over 7 countries around the world. With the envelope weighing in at 95kg with 1500 yards of fabric, Alien Rocket was designed specifically to be easy to handle by 4 local crew members. 

Learn more about Alain Bard's long standing love of flying.

  • Competitor: #20

  • Pilot: Bill Dickinson

  • From: Rolling Hills AB

  • Attended: 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021


Ballooning in the Blood

Bill Dickinson first took to the skies with some thin fabric and a bunch of hot air in 1993. It was love at first flight and he became hooked on ballooning. Bill began pilot training in 2001 and became a licensed pilot in December 2002. Since then he has flown in locations from Billings MT through to Grand Prairie AB and looks forward to exploring more places from the sky and ground. Bill and Annette, his wife, enjoy farming outside of Rolling Hills AB, although it does cut into flying time. 

  • Balloon: Geppetto

  • Call Letters: C-GFPH

  • Type: Galaxy GLX 7

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Sport


Love of a Woodcarver

Geppetto became Bill's flying partner in 2013. The patchwork of red, orange, and yellow brightens the skies every time she flies.

Read more about Bill Dickinson's ballooning adventures.

Foothills Signs logo
  • Competitor: #21

  • Pilot: Brigitte "Brie" Johnstone

  • From: Manotick ON

  • Attended: 2021

Brigitte Johnstone

Happened One Christmas

Brigette "Brie" Johnstone was bitten by the ballooning bug after being gifted a  champagne flight for Christmas. She purchased a balloon, hired an instructor, and became a pilot in 1992. Brie is actively involved in the National Capital Balloon Club as well as the Gatineau Hot Air Balloon Festival where she is on the Board of Directors and a pilot for the Gatineau team. When not flying, Brie is a physiotherapist working with children with disabilities in the community schools. 

  • Balloon: She's A Hoot

  • Call Letters: C-FIET

  • Type: Bill Whalen AX7

  • Size (volume): 77000

  • Category: Special Shape

Red Owl Special Shape Hot Air Balloon

Whimsical Wisdom

She's A Hoot has an uncommon distinction of being built by her pilot. Brie worked alongside Bill Whelan and Sandra Rolfe in 2014 to create these wise eyes to fly the skies.

Learn more about Brie Johnstone's three decades of ballooning.

  • Competitor: #22

  • Pilot: Chris Jones

  • From: Billings MT USA

  • Attended: 2019, 2021


Dream Come True

Chris Jones dreamt of flying since the first flight with his grandfather piloting a fixed wing plane. His love of ballooning began in 1998 with crewing at an event. Chris became friends with another pilot and traveled around the country to crew at events for many years until receiving his pilot's license in 2017. Chris now organizes the annual balloon festival in Billings, Montana.

  • Balloon: Sapphire Sunrise

  • Call Letters: N7111G

  • Type: Raven Aerostar S55-A

  • Size (volume): 77500

  • Category: Sport


Jewel of the Skies

Sapphire Sunrise returns to High River. The blue and yellow combination will sparkle in the sky.

Read more about Chris Jones' path to becoming a hot air balloon pilot.

Heritage Inn logo
  • Competitor: #23

  • Pilot: Peter Van Overwalle

  • From: Belgium & Ennis MT USA 

  • Attended: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2021


World Traveller

Peter Van Overwalle's journey to become a pilot started as a passenger in 1997. The next step was crewing in 1998 and then received his pilot's license in 1999. He flew commercially in Belgium for 12 years until family business matters required more of his time. Peter has 1100 hours in his log book with flying a range of balloons from a cloudhopper to 300,000 cubic feet. Ballooning has taken Peter around the world having flown in 20 countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America.

  • Balloon: Princess Nelly

  • Call Letters: N917PN

  • Type: Kubichek BB30Z 

  • Size (volume): 

  • Category: Special Shape


Princess Nelly

Princess Nelly will brighten the skies with her bright pink complexion, goofy smile, and big silver crown. She is the youngest, but most regal sister of Nelly (grey) and Nelly B (pink).

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