Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ed Yost

Sad News Ed Yost has passed away.
Condolences to his family.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Slow news night yet again, unscheduled landing.

Not really a story this one....

It was the perfect gift; a balloon ride in Wyoming County to mark a 90th
birthday. The take-off and ride were just fine. It was the landing that
turned out to be a little tricky.

One thing a hot air balloon needs is wind. Tuesday night there was very
little wind and that help lead to an unscheduled landing in someone's yard.

Maxine Stephens of Nicholson has always wanted to go for a ride in a hot air
balloon. She said her daughter set up a ride to celebrate her birthday. Her
ride ended a little unexpectedly on the lawn of a house at Lake Sheridan.

"I remember them going in and out of the building you know until they found
a spot. It was pretty big and all the people were out down below," recalled

Denise Rich said she was shocked to see a hot air balloon land by her house.
She could hear the crew on the balloon talking to her neighbors.

"A couple times it looked hairy. His voice started to get real excited.
This one girl who was just sitting in her front yard, he threw a rope at her
and yelled 'Pull it!' and she got up and starting pulling it," Rich said.

About a dozen people who saw the hot air balloon went to see if they could

Witnesses said the hot air balloon landed in one of the bigger yards at Lake

The owner of the balloon said it is very common to make unscheduled
landings. Wind plays a big part in when and where they can land.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Far be it from me to burst their umm balloon.

There must be a few more meets with 105 or more balloons around the world??
Still it all looks like good clean fun ;-)

Adam Matthews balloon fest adds 2 sponsors
By Sheldon S. Shafer
The Courier-Journal

It's already the world's fifth-largest gathering of hot-air balloons, but
the Adam Matthews Festival at Bowman Field has picked up a pair of
three-year corporate sponsorships destined to make it bigger, the chief
organizer says.

With 105 balloons expected for September's event, it has a ways to go to be
No. 1. That honor is held by the Albuquerque, N.M., Balloon Fiesta, with
about 700 balloons.

"Our goal is to be No. 2," said Adam Burckle, head of the Adam Matthews
Foundation, which started and organizes the event.

The Quick Chek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning was No. 2 in 2006 with as
many as 125 balloons, Burckle said.

The ninth annual Adam Matthews Festival, previously called a Balloon
Festival, is scheduled Sept. 28-30 at the airport off Dutchmans Lane and
Taylorsville Road. Except for parking, all activities are free.

Last year the festival drew about 120,000 people over three days and nearly
100 hot-air balloons. That's nearly twice the number that the Kentucky Derby
Festival's Great Balloon Race attracts.

Burckle said he expects this year's event to include balloons from Brazil,
Canada and about 25 states.

Burckle, who owns the Adam Matthews Cheesecake company, is heading the
effort to restore the Louisville Clock designed by the late Barney Bright.
The cheesecake company helps support the foundation, which Adam and Mary Lee
Burckle founded in 1999 to give back to the Louisville community.

He said Meijer's and Dean's Milk have each signed three-year commitments to
help underwrite the festival.

He declined to say how much money they are putting up, but it's the first
time the festival has had multiyear sponsorship deals with more than one
corporation, Burckle said.

The new financial backing has allowed several enhancements to this year's
balloon gala, Burckle said, including:

On Friday, Sept. 28, children from 100 or more area schools will be invited
to Bowman Field for "balloon education day" that will include lessons and
demonstrations on flight and aeronautics.

A "two-legged race" Saturday morning in which the expected 100 or more
balloons will inflate at least two miles from Bowman Field, try to find the
right air current to float over the airport and then drop a beanbag at a

The balloons will stay aloft and then follow a "hare" balloon to a remote
location and drop a second beanbag in a traditional "hare-and-hound" race.
"There is no other event in the eastern United States like it," Burckle

A Sunday "wings and wheel" show at the airport at which more than 500
antique cars and several dozen vintage aircraft will be on displayed. A
Sunday morning "hare-and-hound" balloon race also is set.

Balloon glows are planned Friday and Saturday evenings, and fireworks are
scheduled for about 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Live music and other
entertainment will be offered throughout the weekend.

Festival hours will be 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturday
and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Parking will cost $5 on Friday and $7 on Saturday and Sunday, with proceeds
going to programs funded by the Adam Matthews Foundation, including the
clock's restoration, Burckle said.

The two new corporate sponsors, Burckle said, "will allow us to have the
resources to grow to a worldwide event in terms of our number of balloons."

The Octopus and Balloon

Will the 'octopus' change panorama of Prague?

Prague architect Radek Martisek is a big opponent of Kaplicky's design of
the new building of the National Library in Prague. Recently he made a
report, where he criticized the design as too expensive, dangerous and
ecologically insensitive.

Now he decided to prove that the visualization of the building made by
Kaplicky's team is not correct and doesn't show the real proportions of the
future building. He hired an agency who blew a hot-air balloon up on the
place where the library should stand in Letna. The highest point of the
balloon was 48 meters above the ground, where the 'eye' of the library is
supposed to be. Then he asked his friends and other people to take pictures
of the balloon from different places in Prague.

To his surprise, the balloon was hardly seen from the Charles Bridge what he
was afraid of the most. On the other hand, the balloon seemed to be much
closer to Prague Castle that on Kaplicky's visualization. Martisek paid this
action with his own money.


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02:01 PM

Bristol Belle Re Union Fly Out

With thanks to Julien Henesy for passing this on.

Don Cameron's first balloon "The Bristol Belle" flew on the 9th July 1967.
Don has been approached by the members of the original team asking for a get
together to celebrate the anniversary.

More here

By some strange quirk of fate I ended up living two doors down from the
fellow that took photos here... of Terry Adams flying
Bristol Belle from HMS Ark Royal.

I suspect Terry will be at the reunion so I might make the effort and pop
along myself as I'll be in Blighty then.

Gary Mortimer

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Watch out if you attend a NZ balloon meet.

Looks like you'll get the blame if you fly at a NZ meet and theres a

Pull up the ladder I'm alright.

Ohaupo deer farmers Keith and Kylie West blame hot-air balloons for stock

The Wests farm 400 deer on a 35ha property west of Hamilton, which they said
often experienced balloon fly-overs.

They said noise from the balloons' gas burners frightened stock.

The couple are angry two of their deer were shot this month after they were
spooked by a group of low-flying balloons and escaped.

Two three-month-old weaner deer jumped through a fence and on to a road.
They were not missed until almost a day later. One was found the next day
and the other two days later. Both were shot after it was decided they could
not be recovered safely.

Mrs West estimated the loss at about $3000 including the stock value, fence
damage and search time.

Mrs West said the farm was in the flightpath of nearby Hamilton
International Airport, but aircraft noise overhead did not concern the deer,
which had been born on the property and were used to it.

"Basically the balloons come over and when they get low they light the
burners and they go up," said Mrs West.

Mrs West said she had received no notice of balloon flights and complained
verbally to Hamilton balloon festival organisers but had heard nothing
since. She wanted pilots to avoid the area or pass over at an altitude at
which the burners would not frighten stock.

Kiwi Balloon Company owner Andrew Parker flies the black Hamilton-branded
balloon and believed he may have been flying in the area on the day of the
incident but said visiting overseas pilots were possibly to blame.

Mr Parker said that despite warnings from Balloons over Waikato festival
organisers, overseas balloonists often did not heed advice about flying low
over stock.

"If we see a paddock full of stock we try to fly over them as high as we

Balloonists were well aware of stock issues and tried hard to avoid problems
with farmers, he said. In 10 years' flying he had received only "a handful"
of complaints. If he was aware of any problems from a flight he would
contact farmers afterward.

"We realise that we are landing on their livelihood and we try to maintain a
good relationship with them."

Mr Parker said balloonists were often restricted in their altitude near
Ohaupo because of flights from the nearby airport.

Balloons Over Waikato organisers did not repond to requests for comment.

Albert Turkey

Albuquerque real estate agent Jeff Gilles gazes down at a festering problem
every time he flies his hot-air balloon.

Where to land?

With development exploding on the north side of town, the wide-open spaces
necessary to land aircraft that don't have steering are rapidly giving way
to houses, businesses and big-box stores.

Unless something is done to preserve balloon landing sites, "it's going to
become a crisis," Gilles said, for private balloonists and those who
participate in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta.

That's if nothing is done.

The good news, says Paul Smith, the fiesta's executive director, is that
with the right mix of land purchases, deals with parking lot owners and a
few other tweaks, Albuquerque can keep balloonists happy for years to come
by maintaining good landing sites.

His strategy:

Keep buying land to preserve open space. A proposal to buy the Vista del
Norte property (where Wal-Mart also has proposed a store) is a quantum leap
in the right direction, Smith said.

Monitor the number of balloons flying at one time during the fiesta, perhaps
staggering launches. That would mean fewer balloons competing for the
dwindling number of landing sites.

Work with businesses with large parking lots. Arrange deals where people
park only in certain spaces at certain times during balloon fiesta mornings.
Come up with ways to light those parking lots without having so many poles
that make life difficult for balloonists.

Do all that, Smith said, and Albuquerque should be able to preserve a
healthy balloon fiesta for the next generation.

In building that strategy, however, there's a critical question: Just where
can balloons land?

"I don't know if there is an answer to that question," Smith said, because
so many variables come into play.

Winds often blow out of the north, but not always, so just where the balloon
flights will end up depends on the day's weather. To make things even more
confusing, the wind at ground level is sometimes blowing in a different
direction than a few hundred feet higher.

The stronger the wind, the more limited the landing spots because it takes a
bigger landing zone.

Pilot skill is another factor, Smith said. Some balloonists can land on the
equivalent of a dime. Some can't. All kinds come to the fiesta.

"There are no absolutes," Smith said.

Other balloons can also create competition for prime landing sites. Unlike
helicopters or airplanes, balloons can't just hover or circle and wait for a
landing zone to clear, Smith said.

While balloonists would always prefer to land in wide open areas, landing on
developed parts of town is possible, especially if winds are under about 8

The Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority, for example, lays
out the welcome mat.

"I think we'll always be happy to work with the balloonists," said John
Stomp, the water resources manager for the authority, which controls a large
chunk of land in one of the most common flight paths.

But where the land used to be vacant, it's now a sprawling complex of
buildings and facilities that will treat river water as part of the new San
Juan-Chama project, and that presents obstacles for balloonists. The
authority also leases part of its property to Vulcan Materials, a
construction supplier.

Stomp conceded that the authority's smattering of landing zones is "pretty
tight," and will get tighter as more buildings sprout on its property.

School playgrounds are also an option, though balloonists are discouraged
from landing during school hours, said Albuquerque Public Schools spokesman
Rigo Chavez.

City parks are open as well, officials say.

If winds push balloons north toward Sandia Pueblo, the landing situation
looks better.

"The balloonists are allowed to land on 98 percent of the reservation," said
Amber Flores Jordan, the pueblo's spokeswoman.

Last year, Sandia established several no-land areas, promising a $500 fine
to balloonists who didn't respect them. But in the end, the fine wasn't
enforced on the two balloons that landed there, Flores Jordan said.

The big landowners' words of welcome don't surprise Ed Adams, the city's
chief operations officer and the man who would supervise any land buys.

"Generally speaking, this is a very balloon-friendly community," he said.

Though their landing zones are tightening up, balloons aren't going away
anytime soon, the fiesta's Smith said.

"We will work with whatever there is," he said, but added, "the more open
space there is, the better."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

New Hot Air Balloon Group

The email news group seems to be dwindling so using Google groups I thought I might start my own.

Hopefully you can click through to it from the RSS feed that should now be on the right of this page.

You will also notice I have added a Flickr picture bar rather than waiting for anyone to send me an image to update.


Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Balloon close encounters...

From the Age, a paper I respected when I worked in Melbourne.

It's a hell of a place to fly with only the most skilled dudes working
there. No I don't own a company there or want to fly there real soon again.
It has to twice as hard as flying over London, where I have made more than a
couple of trips. Very cool and impressive pilots, that's the dudes I met

I have flown over exactly the spot mentioned more than once so its not the
first time these dudes will have seen a balloon.

Must have been yet another slow news day balloon story.


Have you had a close encounter with a low-flying hot-air balloon? Send your
images and video to 0406 THE AGE or email

A hot-air balloon narrowly missed hitting buildings in Melbourne's inner
east during a scenic flight this morning.

Abbotsford resident Bruce Sims was alerted to the balloon when he heard
shouting from the balloon's basket as it flew over Abbotsford Street about
15 metres above the ground shortly after 7am.

"It was flying in very low along the street, just above the tops of the
trees," he told

"They were obviously trying to keep altitude by pumping more gas into the
balloon but...they were gradually coming down lower."

Mr Sims lost sight of the balloon as it floated over the nearby Abbotsford

Kiff Saunders, the pilot of the balloon in question, told that
he had "excellent control" of the balloon's altitude.

Mr Saunders, the owner and chief pilot of Melbourne-based ballooning company
Global Ballooning, said his pilots used low altitudes and low winds to help
land hot-air balloons.

"The fact is balloons will fly low to steer, there are different winds at
different altitudes and - particularly in Melbourne - part of the steerage
of balloons to be able to target landing areas is to be able to utilise the
winds between 1500 feet and the ground," he said.

A balloon pilot of over 16 years' experience, Mr Saunders said ballooning is
very safe.

"If a car is travelling down the freeway a metre from a car next to it,
everyone doesn't get into a panic even though that can be happening at 100
kilometres an hour.

"A balloon can fly over an obstacle by a couple of metres in perfect control
- it's not a near miss situation, it is a misconception to the person on the

"The fact is just across the river from Abbotsford is one of our primary
landing areas at the Yarra Bend Studley Park Golf Course, so I'm surprised
to hear a resident (complain) given that our flight path over Abbotsford is
quite realistic."

Abbotsford Convent foundation chief executive Maggie Maguire said a staff
member saw the balloon clear the roof of the building by about five metres.

It was last seen drifting east over Collingwood Children's Farm.

None of the farm's four-legged residents had been injured by the balloon,
she said.

The incident is Ms Maguire's second close encounter with a hot-air balloon
in two weeks.

A fortnight ago she was woken by the noise of a balloon's gas jets and
looked out the window of her Carlton bedroom to see the passengers in its

"I'm wondering whether they've got some new drivers or something," she said.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson said hot-air balloons
occasionally had to make unplanned landings when wind conditions differed
from those forecast.

"There is nothing inherently unsafe about that as long as it's done
properly, it's just unexpected," he said.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Bumpy landing in Lancaster

But first... I was reported as a UFO last Thursday morning whilst flying on
the edge of the Drakensberg.

It was a stunning clear morning so I guess whoever reported us as such were
miles away and not realising what they saw.

Anyhow to the main story for this weekend.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa - Cheryl Ramsey wanted to give her husband, Guy, a gift
to remember for their 18th anniversary.

Neither expected it would be this memorable.

The Ramseys, of Upper Marlboro, Md., were among a dozen people who were
riding in a hot-air balloon that crashed at about 7:15 p.m. Saturday into a
tree and then into a field off Sensenig Road between Frysville and Grist
Mill roads, in Earl Township.

"This was different, very different," said Mrs. Ramsey, 43, who was relaying
her story to a group of spectators, who appeared to be mostly Mennonite
farmers and their families from the area. "It was really nice, except for
the ending."

The Ramseys and the pilot said they didn't need medical treatment, but seven
people were taken to Lancaster General Hospital and two others were taken to
Ephrata Community Hospital, said Martindale Fire Company Chief Anthony

According to witnesses, the most serious injuries appeared to be someone
with a broken collarbone and a woman possibly with two broken ankles. From
what he could determine, Groff said there was no one with life-threatening
injuries. He had no names available at press time.

The hot-air balloon, operated by U.S. Hot Air Balloon Team, St. Peters,
ascended from a field next to the Netherlands Inn in Strasburg at about 6
p.m. While attempting to land in a grassy area in the Earl Township field,
the wind suddenly shifted, forcing the aircraft into a tree. The balloon
then lifted and before crashing into the ground with the basket landing
sideways, causing some passengers to fall on top of one another, according
to Mrs. Ramsey, a schoolteacher.

She and her husband, 48, a Maryland state police trooper, were in good
spirits and planned to eat out upon their return to their Lancaster hotel.
They said the pilot did everything he could, and that the crash was simply
an accident.

"Unfortunately, you can't control the wind," said Mrs. Ramsey, who still
wants certificates from the company showing that she and her husband
completed their first hot-air balloon ride. She also took a twig from the
tree they collided with for a souvenir.

She said she purchased the ride as a surprise for the Ramseys' wedding
anniversary, which was two months ago. They were waiting for a nice spring

Said her husband: "Anything you can walk away from is a good landing."

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Problems with farmers, this could be of use.

How many balloon pilots will be interested in this German ruling, someone
needs get hold of the case and translate it. Could be useful all over the

Can the hissing of a hot air balloon startle a brood of hens into
near-infertility? A German farmer grappling with dwindling egg production on
his farm certainly seemed to think so. But he failed to convince a court.

Stranger things are known to happen in the animal world. But the theory that
a loud hot air balloon could have impaired the fertility of a brood of hens
proved too much for a court in Germany on Friday. It threw out the complaint
by a German farmer against a Dutch balloon pilot.

The farmer was seeking 26,000 euros ($35,000) in damages from the pilot's
insurance company.

The incident occurred in September 2004, when the balloon pilot swooped low
and passed over the farmer's land in the village of Nordhorn in the German
state of Lower Saxony.

In an attempt to regain altitude, the pilot fired up his propane gas burner
with a loud hiss causing panic among the farm's 20,000 free-range hens.

According to the farmer, some of the startled, squawking birds sprang over a
two-meter fence while others tried to flee into coops. The hens, the farmer
said, had been scared badly. Their post-traumatic stress syndrome meant that
a week and a half later, they were laying fewer eggs. Egg production dropped
by almost 60 percent, the farmer said.

The unusual theory was, however, refuted by a professor at a nearby
veterinary college. Asked to testify by the court, the expert said that
decreased egg production among hens was possible for up to two days after a
major shock -- but not ten days after as the farmer had claimed.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hot air balloonists trapped in Syria

I don't think they are the first to fly there.

Wheres Phil Dunnington when you need him he would know, it was probably him.


From here

Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Balloon in the sunset

A group of hot air balloonists are trapped in the Syrian desert after police
confiscated their equipment as they were about to take to the air.

Almost a hundred people, from across the United Kingdom and parts of Europe,
were due to fly across ancient ruins near Palmyra, in what was widely
expected to be a world's first.

But shortly after arriving in Syria, they discovered their 34 balloons,
including baskets and gas canisters, had been seized by local police.

Journalist Rupert Evelyn, who is part of the group explained: "We wanted to
try to become the world's people to ever fly a hot air balloon in Syria.

"There's very strict laws about air space here, and we don't believe
anyone's ever done it before.

"The equipment was shipped out before the group got here. We went to go and
get it and it wasn't there.

"The police have impounded the balloons."

He added: "We've been told the police need to check them out. We don't know
where they are or why, the details are sketchy."

Mr Evelyn said the group have been sitting in the Syrian desert for three
days waiting to see whether they will be reunited with their balloons.

He said: "Everything's up in the air at the moment."

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Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Atlantic Crossing

Beginning to catch up with websites and sleep after our little adventure
filming from the balloon all across South Africa.

So heres the first thing I have added in a while from.

Hempelman Adams

Hot Air Balloon Crossing Planned
April 30, 2007

Another Atlantic crossing could begin from St.John's this summer, this one,
a hot air balloon. British adventurer David Hempleman-Adams has a hot-air
balloon team assembled, ready to cross the Atlantic. They want to do it from
St.John's this summer. Last year, they used Calgary as a base to set an
altitude record in a hot air balloon. One of his crew, Nigel Mitchell, says
Adams is one of the world's greatest living adventurers and was the first
person to achieve the Explorers Grand Slam, having climbed the highest
mountains on each of the world's seven continents, including Mount Everest.
The team has written St.John's City Council asking for information on the