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Balloon Flying Service of Oregon     |     PO Box 3305  Salem OR 97302     |     (503) 363-9799
July 11, 2011 (v)
Passengers: Christie & Terry Luehrs

Today we have a “transition” day from the little bit of summer we have had so far this year which has brought some beautiful flying conditions, to some cooler and wetter few days. With luck I can get the Birthday boy’s flight in before the day goes south. I have some higher winds than forecast around town as I driver to the west launch site. I am not real happy about the surface conditions so I send off a couple of pilot balloons before I give the go ahead to the gang to get us unloaded and stretched out. We are standing soon and I call for “Red” (Terry’s tag) and Terry to join me in the basket. We lift off about 6:30 (remember that time) and move off to the north at a “brisk” pace. We cross over the church then over Wallace Road to the farm country behind the new apartments put in last year. We drift off over the farm country, then cross the river on the edge of Keizer close to the Rapids Park. It is on into the “bottoms” a really rich and fertile farm area north of Keizer. We are still moving along on the wrong side of the river for the “gang” as they have not yet reached the ferry but keeping us in site as they parallel our path about a mile to the west. I’m still thinking we will join them on their side of the river as we approach Windsor Rock’s gravel operation which is right on the river’s edge. The river bends to the east a bit after the gravel pit so I drop down low looking for a turn that way. We scare up some duck’s while low but the turn is not there. I radio the “gang” when I go a bit higher and tell them to get into Willamette Mission Park on the east side of the river ASAP as this will be the LZ (landing zone) this morning. Now this park is really BIG, over 1,600 acres 2/3 of which is bike and horse trails in the THICK BUSH. I need a “wind shadow” (my term) an area downwind close to a tall building or tree line to hide behind when the surface wind gets higher than I like. I find just what I need next to a meadow and drop in for a great shot at the tall grass. It is a three bounce landing as we skid to a stand-up stop in less than 50 feet. We are still in the “shadow” so I keep the balloon up so the “gang” will have something to help find us. We rock and roll a bit as I’m on the cell phone talking to the Cecil and trying to describe the area around us to help them with the retrieval. We are very close to the river, about 2-300 yards and there is a paved bike path between us and the river. I get this information to the “gang” and we wait for the “Cavalry” to arrive. To help out Christie volunteers to jump out and track out to a sign by the path that may give us a hint as to what meadow we are in. We have been “hot” rocking and rolling for about 30 minutes when Mike comes around a pile of tall blackberries and spots us. We still have Cecil & Al out there somewhere. We figure out with Mikes help that they have all been looking in an area to far north as we are really on the southern section of this very large park. We finally all get together, then deflate and get the balloon bagged and loaded up for the long drive back to West Salem for the picnic.
I get the story started, the toast is done and the certificates are presented.

Christie & Terry: “Thank you so much for an experience of a lifetime. We learned a lot about the Willamette Valley during our flight. We look forward to doing this again.

A BIG thank you to today’s Crew (I can’t get in the air or back on the ground without’um)
Cecil, Mike, Al T.

Average Speed: 8.0 MPH
Distance Flown: 8.1 Miles

I’m trying something new, a PDF file of Willamette Mission Park so you can have a look at the “map” (page 2) of the “beast” that kept the “gang” on a 40 minute “nature walk”.

See the video of today’s Flight! NOTE: You will need Adobe Flash 9 to play this video
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