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Balloon Flying Service of Oregon     |     PO Box 3305  Salem OR 97302     |     (503) 363-9799
August 31, 2014 Boise
Passengers: Joe O’Neill, Molly McClung & two sons, Brett, Lance

We got weathered out yesterday due to a low pressure (storm) moving into the area (had to turn on the wipers on for the 6AM drive to the park) and making upper winds unstable. The storm really hit the park hard later that evening (last night) with tents blown down and limbs scattered over the launch site. Scott Spencer and his army of volunteers managed to put everything back in order and at the pilot meeting we were told of a “once in a lifetime” chance to do a Mass Launch of 50 balloons.
Putting that many “gentle giants” in the air at the same time is tricky and requires pilots to be aware of what’s happening in a 360* environment, not only side to side but above (which you can’t see) and below. The balloons have been spread out more today and our location on the edge of the field becomes a bit “crowded”. We have a large balloon (carries 4 people here in Boise/ 5 in Salem OR) so we have always moved to the edge of the field. The “gang” gets the balloon out and ready to fly as I’m in the briefing tent getting all the details on the Great Launch. I will do a crew payout for Molly & her boys and Joe our Boise crewman to even out the load (best to fly with some weight in the basket) this morning. The drill is to get all the balloons up and ready to liftoff for the 7:30 mass lift. We get every one on board and wait for the command…then the most thrilling day in my 26years of ballooning takes place….liftoff with 50 other balloons. The plan is to hold the lift at 200 feet per minute for at least 3/5 minutes then catch whatever breeze you happen to find. As long as all pilots keep to the plan we will be fine and no bumping or banging, it works as planned and we are in a sea of beautiful color no matter where you look. Thank heavens I have Molly onboard as she is a “veteran” rally crewperson and has a huge camera that is clicking as my camera hangs around my neck because I have to FLY with all these aircraft in such close proximity. As we get to about 4/500 feet I find a breeze that will get me some ROOM as we drift off the field and the “herd” as the gang on the ground is giving me heads up reports on the radio as to who is above me so we can stay safe. Part of the pack stays low and catches the drift to the northeast while the rest of us of us decide to try and catch the upper wind higher that will take us south with a slight push to the east and parallel the river and possibly Box back to the field as we did Friday. Since we’re from out of town I opt to use a local pilot in “Dawn Treader” to act as my “wind dummy” and we stay with them most of the flight. Several other balloons have copied our plan so we have a little platoon staying high as the others drift toward the river and try to get there feet wet then some parking lot landing in the commercial area down wind. Our drift up higher is carrying us toward BIG BLUE the Boise State famous football stadium and the boys have a chance to get a bean bag on the turf…maybe. We miss the shot and continue to follow Boise Ave. now getting into residential area and my “dummy” drops altitude so we follow suit and get the 180* swing back toward the park down low at just above the tree tops. Being so low we have several locals come out and say hello and we will be on Facebook today I’m sure as smart phones are snapping us as we drift by. We slip past several good LZ’s (landing zones) the first is a hay field that I set the shot for but get shoved off to the south of but another balloon has better luck and hits it right on. We have done our hour and being an URBAN pilot myself I always stick to MY rule and take the LZ if it comes up, because you never know what’s next. The Guppy balloon has done that in a small park and as we approach the college campus a soccer field has proved to be handy, next to a parking garage. Most of the pilots have gotten down a few out to the north are still up. I call the gang and have them meet us in a parking lot next to the Christian Center and we are down in the empty lot. We get the balloon deflated, then tagged up for the pack and the “sit”. It’s a short drive back to the park for some conversation then the toast and certificates; yep even the crew gets all the trimmings. After looking at the TRACK I think that with a bit of luck we could have BOXED us back!

A BIG thank you to today’s Crew (I can’t get in the air or back on the ground without’um)
Joe, Molly, Tim, Brett, Lance, Cecil, & Boise locals Elisha & Bruce Jahnke

Average Speed: 5.0 MPH
Distance Flown: 6.2 Miles

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