Our Balloon Adventure - Balloons Over Yuma

Trip Start Dec 15, 2012
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Trip End Jan 06, 2013


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Where I stayed
Dry Camped in our RV
What I did
Balloons Over Yuma

Flag of United States  , Arizona
Saturday, January 5, 2013

Howdy friends and family....

4JAN2013 Today turned into a day of relaxing around the pond in the sun and catching up on a good book...  we ran into town and grabbed a turkey and some items for this evening's meal... there turned out to be 10 of us...   Connie & I, Wayne & Kathy (my sis), Dale & Gail, Gary & Sherry, and Jeaneete & Colin...  

We looked for a small turkey and the smallest we could find was a little over 20 lbs...  we didn't expect that large of one and of course couldn't find a fresh one so we ended up with a frozen one...   we threw it into a plastic bag, into a 5 gallon bucket and filled the bucket with warm water.... changing the water ever 30 or so minutes working on getting the darn thing thawed...

While all this was going on, Connie was again taking photos of the Blue Heron that was in the tree 50 feet from our camp sight and some of the ducks feeding on the grass on the bottom of the pond.....

We noticed that we had a beaver track (tail dragging thru the dirt) across our camp sight from last night... we know for a fact that it wasn't there yesterday afternoon so the game camera is set tonight and we're hoping to get some photos of the beaver running past the front of the camera...  there are several trees in the area that the beavers have cut down... most of them are in the 18" - 24" diameter range and they've worked to clear them and haul away most of the branches...     I was amazed that on a 18" tree the damage is 15-20" above and below the break line and almost looks like ax marks....  (The game camera took 16 photos . . . mostly birds and 3 of Gracie Dale and Gail's Dog!  Bummer! No beaver!)

Tomorrow is the big day for the balloon ride... the pilot called at 6:30 this evening and gave us a meet point for 7:15 a.m. and we'll be there with ease as its no more than about 6-8 miles from our location..   I don't have a clue how long or where we're going to fly but am looking forward to the flight and having a  good time...   And at this point Connie looks good to go... she had some questions this evening that I answered... but from the looks of the weather tonight tomorrow a.m. should be a great day...   of course more on this later in our blog...

5JAN2013 Howdy Partner's,

Today started like most others... up early, got the dog walked and fed...  ready to rock and roll before the sun was up this a.m. and the first stop of the day was to grab a cup of coffee and run to the rest room... 

We were to meet up with our family (Wayne and Kathy) in the Bed Bath and Beyond parking lot at 7:15 a.m. and as I pulled in at 7:12 my brother in law told me I was late...   I shared with him and the group that coffee and a pee break was the first thing on the list and I was still 3 minutes early and not the last one to show up....  We met 5 others besides Colin & Brittany with their van and three of their crew... 

As we sat and introduced our selves we were listening to Colin on the radio chatting with us about our launch site...  the winds were 5 mph and the day was starting out as a beautiful day to fly....  As we drove to the launch site we chatted in the van about the morning ride...

As the crew was spreading out the balloon we were getting our pre-flight instructions from Brittney about how to board and exit the basket, and how to prepare for soft, bumpy and "tilt" (not a crash) landings...   we also got an over view of how things went together as the crew got the balloon set and ready to inflate...

As part of the crew is pulling the balloon out and setting up the guy wires, our pilot Colin is doing a pre-flight on the basket, burners and fuel system..  one of the important tests is a full fuel blast from each burner... if needed in flight for rapid assertion over power lines and trees..... you can see, during this test that the flame is easily 25-35 ft above the top of the burner...

This balloon and basket is about 110 ft tall and the basket will hold 8 adults with a full load of fuel plus the pilot..    today we had 7... We've been around balloons several times so you'll see most of how it goes together in Connie's photos...  they lay the balloon out across the ground and attach the basket... and with the basket on its side they start 2 fans.... ran by Honda gas engines.... the fans inflate the balloon with a large volume of air....  once the balloon is inflated to about 75% the fans are reduced to an idle and the burners are started and the flame is shot into the balloon... the hot light air, starts to inflate and fill out the balloon and give it some lift... and the hot light air, around the cold morning air (HEAVY) creates the lift required to get the balloon off the ground.... with the balloon inflated the basket is up righted and the passengers and pilot climb aboard...

So here we are, sitting on the ground loaded and the pilot gives the signal for the crew to jump off the outside of the basket and we just lift off......  quiet, no noise except for the sound of the burners making hot air for lift...   we climb to about 700 ft above the ground and start to drift off from our launch sight..   As we drift our pilot tells us he'll attempt a touch and go... into the Colorado River.... that is, touch and drag the bottom of the basket in the water as we drift over the river...   he tells us that this touch and go is important, as he is to dip the runners of the basket in the river but no water is to come through the weave of the basket to get our feet wet...

We gently drift across the river....  too much wind today for our touch and go....  we then again ascend to 1200 ft or so... all this time our pilot is in contact with the tower at Yuma Marine Air Station and Yuma Air Port for VFR flight following so that the tower knows that a balloon is drifting around the end of the airport about 3-4 miles out...    As we drift I notice a low flying helicopter heading towards the hospital and their pad...   We decide this is life flight with an inbound passenger and our pilot  has never seen this happen... the balloon has the ability to rotate, but not control the direction of flight...  he opens a flap and the balloon rotates around and we watch the helicopter approach the pad, and then land on the pad with a heavy highway on one side and 8 floors of hospital on the other side...

As we started to descend our pilot picked out a landing spot across a field of lettuce...    we're told that if the field has been picked, the farmers are forgiving about landing in the field but don't care for the basket setting down in the un-picked field...   as we approach the the landing spot its decided to touch down on the edge of the road.... as we touch down we slide across the road into a nice soft birm...

We were told to stay aboard and we hooked the balloon to one of the chase trucks (BTW the chase truck is Wayne & Kathy . . . and we got perfect pictures of his Dodge truck pulling the balloon for the TDR-Turbo Diesel Registry) and towed the basket across the road to a spot where the balloon could be UN-inflated and rolled up...    during this 10-15 minute segment we had traffic stopped on the road, and we had drivers standing outside their vehicles looking up and watching....  

We toasted a great flight with Champagne and photos... Complete with Certificates of Achievement from Endeavor Ballooning!

3 or 4 surprises during the flight... the lighting of the burners is heard by dogs on the ground and when the burner starts the dogs bark... as we crossed the fields and the workers would look up... we'd yell Hola (hello in Spanish) and the workers would wave and respond… it was quiet and still except for the wind across us....     As we touched down and walked into the Lettuce field next to the landing spot we noticed that it has frosted the side of the heads of Lettuce... 
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Comments

Colin and Jeannette Reece on

We had a wonderful time with all at the pond and hope to do it again one day. Thank you for the Turkey dinner it was enjoyed by all. Wonderful pics and even Quincy looks quite content. Glad to hear you are home safe. Talk soon.

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