New York

 

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O#5: Glens Falls, New York
OSeptember 21, 2003
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The Adirondack Balloon Festival takes place every September in New York state, about an hour north of Albany in the towns of Glens Falls, Queensbury and Lake George. Now in its 31st year, the festival is one of the largest in the Eastern United States, attracting over 100 hot-air balloons.

My two previous experiences with this festival had been disappointing, due to bad weather. When I attended in 1997 to fly my hot-air balloon, the event was plagued with rain and wind; only a few of the balloons flew. When I was scheduled to do a helium cluster balloon flight there in 2002, the entire event was rained out. So when organizer Walter Grishkot invited me back to try again in 2003, I was happy to give it another try, but wasn't entirely surprised that when the week of the festival arrived, hurricane Isabel was getting ready to come ashore on the East Coast.

Traveling to New York on the Thursday before the event, my flight through Baltimore was cancelled. Isabel had just made landfall in North Carolina and was pushing to the north, with 100+ mph winds. Southwest Airlines dumped me unceremoniously in Nashville to spend the night at an airport motel. The next day I was able to continue on to Albany, where the remnants of the storm were passing through. The forecast was for the strong winds and showers to end early Saturday; Sunday, the day of my flight, was forecast to be sunny and calm.

 

Ernie (Ernies_Hat_Tiny2.gif (251 bytes)) was unable to join me, due to his busy schedule as an educator. David Tanzer, a balloonist and fellow Cloudhopper pilot from Vermont had agreed to come be my crew chief. He arrived on Saturday, with his wife Lori Bottom and daughter Sammi. Chip Paris, another balloon enthusiast, also came out to lend a hand with my preparations.
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Somewhat to my amazement, the morning of the flight was clear and calm, as forecast.

 

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I got into my harness and the crew began attaching the seventy-two red, white and blue balloons to me. It was getting light, and the balloon festival spectators had started arriving.

 

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A good-sized crowd had gathered.
David walked me a short distance away
and tried to clear some space for me to launch.

 

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And up I went.

 

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Continued...