Sunday, August 14, 2016

Up, up and AWAY!

So on a random day a few weeks ago I received a text...Do you want to volunteer with us at the National Balloon Classic?  We will help inflate the balloon, etc.

Me:  Sure.

LOL!  The text was from my neighbor Michelle.  She works for Wells Fargo and they were looking for another couple to help volunteer to be on the crew to help get the balloon launched and then chase and help get it back in the van, etc.  There was mention of possibly getting to ride, but I had ZERO expectations of getting to go up in the balloon.

We arrived at 5:45 AM...yep, before the sun came up!  LOL!

Most of the racing balloons drove off and launched from a location away from the field.  They were competing to throw bags at a target on the main field.  Since we were helping with an exhibition balloon, we launched from the main field, along with 3 other balloons that you could PAY to ride in a balloon.

Since my neighbor works for Wells Fargo, that is the balloon we were helping to launch.

This is Michelle and Joe holding the opening of the balloon, so it could inflate with air before we added the heat.

Below, you can see a "lump" inside the balloon.  That was the pilot.  She had gone in under the balloon to untangle some of the ropes.

So, there were riders scheduled to go up in the balloon...BUT they didn't show up.  So she was going to let part of the crew go up.  I had already flown in a balloon years ago, so I gave up my chance for those that had not flown before.  Eventually, we let Michelle and Jeff (the other WF employee who had helped the weekend before) go up in the balloon.

She was a little freaked out, but I think once she got up there had a great time!

So the pilot had mentioned that if she could find a place to land, she would and trade out riders.  I had ZERO expectations that this would happen.  However, she proved me WRONG!

She decided to land in the ditch along Highway 65 (in the ditch).  Michelle and Jeff jumped out and Joe and I jumped in.   It was just a peaceful as I remembered it the first time.

As we took off, we could see the other balloons up in the air and were following in the same direction.

The pilot was very considerate of her surroundings.  She would stay higher up when flying over any animals, so the flame wouldn't scare them and cause them to run and injure themselves.

The technology used in ballooning was pretty cool to see.  In the chase van we had an app that could track where each of us were and how fast the balloon was traveling and the roads we needed to navigate to stay ahead of the balloon.  Kevin, Michelle's husband (that didn't want to go up in the balloon) did a great job navigating!

She also had an i-pad in the balloon that indicating places not recommended to land, DO NOT land and then areas that were options for landing.  However, we mostly used our vision to locate a great place to land.  

We landed in a yard along a gravel road.  The residence were not home when we first landed, but since we were able to get the balloon deflated and put back in the van, etc without damaging the yard, we decided to proceed.  By the time we were finished the owners came home and signed the necessary paperwork allowing us permission to land.  They were pretty excited we had landed in their yard and were disappointed they had missed us.

Above is a photo of the top opened up and letting the hot air out of the balloon to get it deflated.

Overall, it was a lot of fun.  It was just luck that we actually got to ride in the balloon.  Even if we had not been able to ride, it still would have been a great experience!

So, as are some random (FUN) cards to enjoy and a Summer themed layout too!

Alright...until next time (whenever that will be).  LOL!


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