Got up at 5:30am this morning…..not as chilly this morning…arrived at G9 (that is the assigned spot for my pilot) at about 6:30am….we left the field about 6:45am. It was a beautiful morning today with almost no wind.
Had seven volunteers today in addition to the pilot (Jerry) and his wife (crew chief, Karen) Karen’s sister (Kim, 6 month survivor of breast cancer) and her 13 yr old daughter (Sarah) are here from Memphis. Jerry’s sister (Ann) is here from Chicago. A friend (Marian) that lives here, another friend (Joe) and he brought a co-worker (Deborah).
We drove out a few miles to an empty space that apparently is a well know launch site. I think there were 6 or 7 balloons that launched from the same site. Two officials from the FAA were there so apparently it is a well known spot. Jerry talked to them but they did not ask to see his official papers and logs.
We all worked to get the balloon inflated and then Jerry took up Marian, Ann and Sarah. Then he came down and took up Deborah and I. Then he came back down and took up Kim and Joe. We almost got the chase vehicle and trailer stuck in soft sand but Joe was able to get us out.
It was an awesome experience. After we got the balloon packed back up…..that was a little more of a challenge today….he landed on a dirt path in the desert/scrub ground. Four of us stood on each side of the path and he brought the balloon down on the path while we all pushed the balloon in to keep it from landing on the scrub and cactus plants. It went well….no issues.
Anyway, after we got packed up we had a ceremony for the three of us who had never flown with Jerry before….Anne, Deborah and I. Jerry told a long funny story about how ballooning started (some of it might actually be true), we recited the balloonist prayer and then we had champagne and received certificates and were officially “pinned”. Jerry and Karen do not sell or trade their pins. You only get a pin if you crew for him and ride with him.
Then we all went to breakfast and then back to the field. It was noon when we got back to the field.
Warm and sunny here this afternoon.