A Parade of Balloons – My Weekend

It was a great weekend of hot air ballooning in Statesville, North Carolina.

It began with our annual Carolinas Balloon Association Holiday Party, where about twelve balloons flew. Our own mini-festival. The friend I was going to chase for decided not to fly that afternoon, so my 18-year old buddy Duncan invited me to fly along with him. He’s an amazing pilot and even though I harass him for coming home from college most weekends (I believe he needs the full college experience, but he’s always had a mind of his own and respectfully ignores me), I do miss him and was excited to have him to myself for a little while. Here are a couple of shots I took during our flight.

Duncan, my pilot for the Saturday afternoon flight
The balloons still left on the field, preparing to launch
Pilots Anthony and Thomas in flight
Joseph and Ian fly by
My friend Marsha did an anniversary tour for the Wizard of Oz several years back I love seeing this balloon around this town. I love that movie (minus the flying monkeys.)

Sunday morning my friends Daniel and Drew did what us called a dawn patrol flight. They went up when the twilight was hitting, with special lights attached to their balloon. They get to see sunrise from the sky.

I had no official duties, so after launch I just chased them around town, looking for vantage points to get some interesting shots. It was beautiful to see them flying around.

Drew, one of the dawn patrol pilots
Daniel, the other pilot.
Drew almost ready to launch
Drew’s balloon (taken after sunrise)
Daniel’s balloon (also taken after sunrise)

Then Sunday afternoon my friend Debbie and I flew her balloon, three of our friends flew theirs, over Statesville’s Christmas parade. It was a fun task -remember there is limited control for the pilot in a balloon. To quote Debbie ”We pilots can go up and down; God decides right or left.”

Debbie and I prepare to launch

But our little ballooning brain trust did a fantastic job picking a launch site and over the parade we did go. It was especially fun for me, who started going to this parade at age six and have always loved it.

Debbie’s balloon. Getting ready for the flight.
Dave was the first in the air.
Charles, over one of our local barbeque joints,
Duncan, my pilot from Saturday afternoon, flying towards the parade.
Our City Hall, close go the start of the parade route.

When we landed, in a leveled corn field, a group of neighbors showed up, excited. The landowner was gracious and we packed up and went on our way. Remember we never know where we are going to land ballooning. We can come down anywhere. We are grateful for the kindness of strangers when we drop in on them.

So it was an amazing weekend and I got to fly twice. It doesn’t get much more perfect for me.

4 Comments

    1. You should see if there is a festival in your area where you could volunteer or a pilot you can hang out with. I believe if you worked as part of a chase crew and learned how much we all stress safety, and all the training the pilots go through not only initially but on an ongoing basis, you’d start to feel more comfortable, Many who have said they would never ride in one have changed their mind.

      Liked by 1 person

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