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#45: Canaan, Connecticut
October 10, 2010


As of 2010, Connecticut was the last remaining New England state that I hadn't flown in... although not for lack of trying. In 2007 I was scheduled to participate in a balloon flight across Long Island Sound from Connecticut to Long Island, but the event was canceled due to bad weather. Then in 2009, I had hoped to fly at Connecticut's sole remaining balloon festival, in Plainville, which for the first time in 25 years was completely rained out. In 2010, I was scheduled to try to fly in Plainville again, but the FAA, having approved my flight in 2009, decided the week before the event that they didn't like the idea in 2010, so I was again unable to fly.

At that point, local balloonist Mick Murphy, who had helped arrange the two earlier Plainville attempts, offered to arrange a launch site for me at a place where he sometimes flew, up in the Northwest corner of the state. This seemed like the best option for a fourth try, so in September of 2010, my girlfriend Marj and I headed for Connecticut.


Gary and Carol Weed, who had crewed for me before on various East Coast cluster flights and had been my crew chiefs in North Carolina, live in Connecticut, and agreed to be my crew chiefs again. Carol and Gary are from Lyme, Connecticut, which is the place for which Lyme disease is named.


The place where I was to fly was a town called Canaan. The area is just south of the Berkshires, where every house on the main road has been converted to an antique shop, bed and breakfast or similar business. Canaan, however, seems to be a real rural town, with a handful of businesses that serve the local population.



One of those businesses is C.A. Lindell and Son, which is among other things a hardware store, fuel company and proprietor of a drive-through lumber yard, which is a giant steel prefab building stocked with lumber and other construction supplies that customers can actually drive through to pick up their supplies. At the back of the Lindell property is a turf farm, where the manager Dave Riva had kindly offered to let me take off.



The morning of the flight was cold, with frost on the grass and some wisps of ice fog. Mick had invited a number of hot-air balloonists and other acquaintances to help out, and my balloonist friends the Youngs from New Jersey had brought their balloon and offered to fly along with me.



The inflation went smoothly. I got into my harness and got ready to go. Mick briefed me on the winds and checked out my balloons, which after three previous tries were finally inflated and ready to fly in Connecticut.


The sun was starting to clear the trees, lighting the top of my cluster, and the Youngs' balloon. My balloons were pulling me up on my toes. I emptied some water from one of my ballast bags...



...and up I went.