Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wells Fargo opened the account for the families of pilots Keith Sproul and Stephen Lachendro, who were in the "Wings Of Wind" balloon when it hit a power line last Friday morning.
The gondola caught fire and separated from the balloon envelope, crashing to the ground.
Thieves made off with radios, computers and other items.
Wells Fargo has already donated $1,000 into the account to help the families deal with expenses surrounding the funeral, medical care costs and the break-in .
Donors who want to give to the account can contact Wells Fargo and should ask about donating to the Debbie Sproul account.
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Monday, October 13, 2008
I know I wrote in several places last year that it must be the most dangerous festival on earth.
This year it has done nothing to dispel the myth.
But I just came across this.
Oct 12, 2008 (Albuquerque Journal - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX)
Maryann Myers flew in from Michigan just to see the fabled balloons she had heard so much about. But all she got to see Saturday morning were flames shooting from a propane tank and some people flying kites.
"We're very disappointed," she said.
Saturday's mass ascension was canceled due to wind, leaving a restless weekend crowd milling around the park seeking a diversion -- there's not much to see at a balloon festival sans balloons.
But organizers and pilots made every effort to appease the masses. Before the sun rose, several propane tanks belched fire into the darkness, surrounded by appreciative crowds.
Myers was standing near one such tank with her daughter-in-law and granddaughter Saturday morning, deciding what to do with the rest of their day. They planned to take in some of the booths at fiesta, visit the balloon museum and were hopeful that some balloons might inflate but stay grounded.
"We'll try and salvage the day," said Myers' daughterin-law Camely Myers, of Albuquerque. She said she has other activities planned for the weekend visit, but nothing that rivals the mass ascension.
"This was supposed to be the highlight," she said.
As the sky grew lighter and the crowd thinned, an enormous sheet of balloon material became a playground for the remaining children. Held near the ground by organizers at each corner, the sheet flapped in the wind as kids ducked underneath and played beneath its folds.
Colby Boudet, 4, was having fun playing under the sheet, but he still hadn't seen what he came for. Boudet's family flew in from Illinois on Friday for a trip they've been planning for nearly a year.
"We haven't seen a balloon yet," said Colby's father, Robert Boudet. But despite the disappointment, he said his son was finding ways to have fun anyway.
"He's having a good time collecting the trading cards," he said. "He loves balloons; that's his No. 1 thing."
Although several teams tried to inflate their balloons on the ground, their efforts were stymied by the winds. The Wells Fargo stagecoach made perhaps the most valiant effort but had to be deflated before it fully took shape.
The morning's only silver lining was that the same wind that canceled the ascension provided excellent kite-flying weather.
Colbie Boyd, 3, was flying a kite with her grandmother Saturday and seemed unconcerned about the cancelation. Her parents are pilots who live in Albuquerque, so there is no shortage of balloons in her world.
"Last Saturday was beautiful," said her grandmother, Jan Alford. Just then, though, Boyd let go of her fish-shaped kite, and Alford had to go running after it.
A farewell mass ascension is scheduled for 7 a.m. today, weather permitting. Inside
The balloon pilot injured in Friday's crash that killed another man remained in critical condition Saturday.
Now if that is not pouring the pressure on I'm not sure what is.
Is the Albert Turkey festival for balloonists or the public watching??? If it has turned into an event to please the masses then something is out of balance.
It amazes me that a local newspaper was not more sympathetic to high winds and their associated problems after last Fridays accident.
Looks like at Albert Turkey its less than a 1/1000 chance of death or serious injury when the flying field is opened.
Just being the biggest does not make an event the best.
But then thats America for ya all.
On a much brighter note, the 2010 Gordon Bennett coming to the UK, thats fantastic well done Jon and David.
Adventurer David Hempleman-Adams has told how he landed a balloon in pitch black darkness to avoid plunging into one of the planet's biggest lakes.
The explorer from Box has just won the world's oldest air race with an 1,100-mile flight across the USA which ended on his 52nd birthday.
He and his co-pilot Jon Mason, 35, had been forced to choose between a complete darkness landing or the risk of ending up in Lake Michigan as they scented success in the prestigious Gordon Bennett gas balloon race.
Father-of-three Mr Hempleman-Adams took the decision to land the balloon in the dark rather than risk flying over the Great Lake without enough ballast.
He said: "I know you should never land a balloon at night but we had to make that decision as we didn't have enough sand to go over the lake and the balloon was going down."
The pair made two attempts to land in the drama on Friday at the end of the race, in which the winner is the crew flying the furthest distance.
"It's hard to judge from the air at night what is on the ground. During our first attempt what we thought were small bushes turned out to be 45 ft trees so we had to try again. We flew over the trees and landed near a maize crop."
The pair had taken off on Monday from Albuquerque in New Mexico and landed north of Chicago at 5am on Friday in their balloon Lady Luck.
They did not discover they had become the first British team ever to win the competition named after the man who gave his name to the famous exclamation until they had had a few hours of sleep.
Mr Hempleman-Adams said: "The sheriff picked us up and took us to the local hotel where we collapsed.
"We'd been flying for 74 hours taking it in turns to sleep at two-hourly intervals curled up on the floor of the basket. When we woke there was a note under the door from our chase team which said, 'Well done boys, you've won!'
"We thought we'd come second so it was a very good birthday present."
There were 12 crews in the contest, the 52nd ever held.
Mr Hempleman-Adams said. "It was a very tactical race with everyone trying to outdo each other like a game of poker."
Co-pilot Mr Mason, a consultant clinical psychologist who works in Canterbury, said: "We are a great duo and a foil for one another. David needs someone to restrain him and I need someone to encourage and push me. We arrive at a middle ground. We also work well together because we have different skills. "David is excellent at looking at the bigger picture and navigating while I am good concentrating on the detail doing what we have to do there and then."
He said he accepted the risky decision his co-pilot had made.
"It's easy to highlight the dangers but people do things all the time that are risky that, in the end, become routine.
"Gas ballooning isn't rocket science. You fill the balloon with gas that's lighter than air and you take sand with you. The risk isn't flying a gas balloon - it is flying a balloon for four days in bad weather when you are tired and in the dark."
One of their scariest moment came when the duo were hit by a snowstorm.
Mr Hempleman-Adams said: "We had some difficult weather. During the day it reached 42 degrees but at night it crashed to about 8 degrees and we would shiver.
"Once, we were up at 13,000 ft and it started to snow. The cooling on the balloon made it come down very quickly and we descended to 5,000 ft."
Another brush with death was when the team spotted two jets flying too close for comfort.
"At one stage we were over Albuquerque at 5,000 ft and two jets came in underneath us with only 500ft clearance and scared the daylights out of us," Mr Hempleman-Adams said.
The pair were due to fly back into Britain this morning.
The competition - founded by newspaper tycoon and adventurer Bennett - is described as the most prestigious event in aviation and the ultimate challenge for the balloon pilots and their equipment.
It was started in 1906, when 16 balloons were launched from Paris, but has never before been won by Britons.
It was put on ice at the outbreak of the Second World War and not revived until 1983.
The victory means the race will start from the UK in 2010.
Mr Hempleman-Adams turned to extreme and endurance ballooning after years of conquering mountains and polar regions.
He has climbed the tallest peaks on all seven continents, travelled to both the North and South Poles, completed the first balloon flight to the North Pole and the first flight across the Northwest Passage. He also completed the first balloon flight across the Atlantic in an open wicker basket in 2003. He holds the world altitude record for Roziere (a combination of gas and hot air) balloons at more than 41,000 ft.
Posted: October 12, 2008
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A planned $2 million recreation of a historic balloon flight would give Conner Prairie visitors a bird's-eye view of the Fishers living-history museum.
The project was expected to be announced today, said Ellen Rosenthal, Conner Prairie president and chief executive officer.
Beginning in June, a $10 ticket would let museum guests take a 15- to 20-minute hot-air balloon ride at an elevation of 350 feet.
Rosenthal said Friday that the Balloon Voyage exhibit commemorates John Wise's 1859 launch of the first manned balloon intended to travel cross-country, from Lafayette to New York.
"It is one symbolic event that draws attention to how much progress and scientific advancement was being made," Rosenthal said. "At this event, 20,000 people were there. There were only 19,000 people in Indianapolis then. (Since) 2009 is also the 150th anniversary . . . it's now or never to do the exhibit."
Wise, a Philadelphia native, was trying to prove that mail could be delivered across the country by air, Rosenthal said. Winds on Aug. 17, 1859, sent him south instead of east as planned, so he landed 40 miles away in Crawfordsville. Although a train eventually delivered the mail, the landmark launch was still considered a success.
Dan Freas, Conner Prairie's director of museum experience, discovered Wise's story, Rosenthal said. To learn more, museum representatives visited the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., to which one of Wise's relatives donated his journals and notebooks.
Tom D. Crouch, a senior curator of the Smithsonian's aeronautics division, told Conner Prairie representatives he'd waited years for an exhibit like this to introduce people to early flight attempts in America.
The exhibit is to be installed in the current Clowes Common area next to the main museum center. Before that can happen, Conner Prairie must appeal a Fishers zoning rule to allow for the equipment, Rosenthal said.
The museum plans to renovate Clowes Common to make concessions look the way they would have in 1859, Rosenthal said. Plans also call for an outdoor exhibit to engage guests in activities such as filling gas balloons and trying on the helmets of balloon pilots, or aeronauts.
The Balloon Voyage would join other living-history experiences at Conner Prairie, which include recreated towns from 1836 and 1886 and a Lenape Indian camp from the early 1800s, when white settlement of the area was beginning.
• Call Star reporter Gretchen Becker at (317) 444-2805.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Balloon pilots somber at NM festival after death
ONE man died and another was seriously injured when the balloon they were in crashed in the United States yesterday.
The balloon hit power lines and burst into flames at a ballooning festival near Albuquerque, New Mexico, throwing the two men to the ground.
Witnesses at the International Balloon Fiesta said winds had picked up and many of the balloons were flying low just before the Wings of Wind crashed in Bernalillo, just north of Albuquerque, in the southwestern American state.
Stephen Lachendro was killed and Keith Sproul was critically injured.
Kathie Leyendecker, a spokeswoman for the annual festival, said she did not know who was piloting the balloon.
Mr Lachendro was found dead on the side of a ditch, while Mr Sproul was unconscious and taken to hospital, Rio Rancho Fire Battalion Chief Paul Bearce said.
Witness Glenn Vonderahe said he "couldn't believe it".
"I saw the balloon and the next thing I knew there was a lot of fire and smoke. There was fire under the balloon," he said.
He said the balloon landed, then bounced back up and apparently hit some power lines.
The balloon was stuck in the lines, then Mr Vonderahe saw the balloon portion - called the envelope - float away, a burning tank still attached. "Debris was flying everywhere," he said.
The tank fell harmlessly to the ground and the envelope was eventually found about 25km away.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.
The yellow, brown and orange triangle-shaped balloon was among hundreds competing in events at the weekend balloon festival.
Mr Lachendro was a father of two sons and a daughter and enjoyed ballooning with friends, said his daughter, Amanda.
"I just want everyone to know that he loved what he did," she said.
The annual festival is Albuquerque's major tourist drawcard, but it has had fatalities before, mostly from balloons hitting power lines.
Last year, a 60-year-old was killed. In 1982, four people died. Other fatalities were recorded in 1990, 1993 and 1998