Alabama (cont'd)

 

I had heard from the other balloonists about experiences with the wind carrying them down the river, and being unable to get back on shore. But today I drifted slowly across the river to the north, over still water, and long, thin wooded islands in midstream. After the excitement of the launch, and the preceding twelve hours of uncertainty, it was incredibly serene and beautiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Passing over one of the islands, I decided to come down for what balloonists call a "splash and dash". It's a bit harder to get your feet wet without getting all of you wet in the cluster balloon -- a burner and vent provide for more control than cutting away balloons and releasing ballast -- but I managed to put my legs in to my ankles. This turned my socks blue and later forced me to throw my shoes away, when whatever microorganisms live in the Tennessee River set up housekeeping in them, but it was worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the north shore, I passed over a nature preserve, and then over some farmed areas. I flew over Limestone Creek, an estuary of the Tennesse river. Luckily, I resisted the temptation to splash and dash again, as I later learned that this was the home of local alligators.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wind near the surface had dropped to a few miles per hour. Higher up the winds were faster but headed off to the east, where there was limited road access; so I stayed low and continued north towards where my crew waited near I-565. I hedgehopped over woods and thickets, and finally made it out to the highway. There were some very light thermals starting, making it hard to control altitude, so I passed over the highway with some altitude, and dropped a line down to Bob on the far side.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of the other balloon crews had joined Bob and Phil at my landing, and we spent some time letting people go up on tether. I was tired but happy with my wonderful Alabama flight. Here we rest.

 

 

 

Celebration XXXV

Crew Chief: Bob Dunnington

Chase Balloon Squadron: John Goddard, David Harwell, Kyle Patton, Rocky Bailey.

Special Thanks to:

Alabama Jubilee: Irene Taylor, President; Larry Fuller, Balloonmeister; Phil Gentry, Cluster Balloon Safety Officer.

UAH Cluster Balloon Volunteers (see photo; names courtesy of Phil Gentry)

Photography: Shelia Chatham, Mike Sumrell, John Goddard, Janet Patton, Bob Dunnington, John Ninomiya

 

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