This is really The Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic Part III, but it’s also the day Janis and I got to fly! Big day for me and Janis both. A special thanks to the Spencer’s and Spirit of Boise, our Pilot Tom, and all that made this possible. Yes, Hot Air Balloons are aircraft and you have to have a pilots licence to fly one. The FAA watches everything that goes on at these events. But I digress. What a beautiful day, nice and chilly and very light winds, perfect for ballooning. We met our pilot Tom and his wife at the pilots briefing, went through check in and got ready (briefed) by our pilot what was expected of us. I think we were unofficial co-pilots; watch for power poles and lines, light poles, watch for balloon ascending from below – they have the right of way. I thought this was all pretty interesting. So when do we fly I wonder? I really want to do this thing. After a few minutes the balloon is fully inflated and then the pilot started to heat the air by firing the burner. This is all a little tricky and a bit of an art. The balloon slowly rotates from it’s horizontal position to the vertical one and the pilot gets in the basket as it turns upright. Everyone in the crew is holding the balloon down and the pilot invites us to get into the basket with him. He warns us that we can’t get out until he tells us we can; we are now ballast. An all clear from the FAA folks and a couple of blasts from the burner and we’re off watching out for the other balloons taking off. I really had never noticed the difference in how these pilots do this. Some of the pilots rose very quickly, others seem to take their time. It was very fun to watch from this new perspective. At any rate one of the challenges for the pilots was to drop something from the balloon onto a target “X” in a field some distance from where we took off. We maneuvered over the X and the pilot dropped his marker. We were somewhere around 3,000 to 4,000 feet and I thought we were golden. The closer the marker got the earth however the more obvious it became we weren’t really that close. I remember dropping clothes pins into a bottle as a kid. This was way different.
This was really a great experience and one I won’t soon forget. Thanks again to all my new ballooning friends!
PS Glad they left the gate of the Pioneer Cemetery open for us.