The state park dropped away behind me rapidly, as the wind took me and the other balloons south.


One of the hot-air balloons, piloted by Chad Dennis, stayed with me for the first half of the flight. Crewperson Eric Chapin took some photos of me from the other balloon, and I took some of them.



The countryside was dotted with small lakes. Coming from a part of the country where open fresh water is limited to golf courses and occasional reservoirs, it was amazing to me to fly over all that water.




I rode the winds to the south, a happy speck of color in the grey skies.



After forty minutes or so, I could see some of the other balloons starting to descend. I was headed south and slightly west, slowly angling in toward US 30. I decided to send crew out ahead of me to the other side of US 30. I was moving at about 15 mph, a decent speed, but my track was mostly south and a little west, so it took a while before my track converged with the highway and took me to the other side. I could see Larry in my truck, sitting on the access road. There was a golf course just beyond the access road to the west.



I released some balloons to start my descent. At first I thought I would overshoot, and sent Larry and the crew running farther out onto the golf course to the south.



However, as I dropped in, the lower winds were much slower, so I ended up drifting in toward the green, not too far from where the truck was.


No matter how wonderful the flight is, it's always nice to be safely on the ground at the end of it.


Some evening golfers came by, wanting to play through, so we moved off onto the rough. While there was still enough light we let people get into my harness and go up on tether. Then, as the sun was setting, we deflated the balloons.



Celebration XX
Crew Chief: Larry Vandenberg
Principal Crew: Marj Walters, Robert Rochte, Joe Rolando
Thanks to: Seven Lakes State Park Balloon Classic, Eric Davis, Michigan Balloon Corporation, Craig and Michelle Elliott.

Photography: Marj Walters, Eric Chapin, John Ninomiya

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