Saturday, July 21, 2012

View from the Top

Today is my 300th entry! I find this to be a very fitting post to celebrate such an occasion!

This time my dream finally took flight. As you read last week during the media flight for the Hot
Air Jubilee, my balloon wasn't able to get too far off the ground. However Dave, the balloons owner, told me he would get me another chance to have a real ride. 

On day one of the Hot Air Jubilee I arrived at Ella Sharp at 6 a.m. for the first morning launch. It was decided soon after I arrived that we would be changing the launch site. If we launched from there we wouldn't have been flying over Jackson, due to the wind's direction. The location was changed to Jackson Catholic Middle School. Once we all arrived the four balloons got ready to get in the air.  
Photo by David Buchanan
 At this point I was getting a little nervous knowing how high I would be going this time. Once we got up, the nerves were  worth it. I got a birds eye view of downtown Jackson. I flew over my beloved Jackson High School to see it in all it's glory. 
 I love maps because I love to see things from above where everything makes sense. I got to see a real live map of Jackson. I tried to follow the streets and keep track of where I was. As I looked down at the normal places that I go to everyday I couldn't believe how different they seemed. Goes to show you that when you change your perspective on your world, your world changes. 

Our chaser crew consisted of Dave's son Jason and two volunteer crew members. Dave had decided we would try to land at Lumen Christi High School. We watched Jason and crew drive down Spring Arbor Road, but as they entered the school's parking lot I could tell we might not get there at the same time. My job at that point was to drop the rope down to Jason, so he could grab a hold of us on the ground. As the truck parked next to the baseball field that we planned to land in we watched Jason get himself into a full sprint trying to catch up with us. As we just passed the field and started over the trees Dave yelled to the ground "we're not gonna make it!" We kept flying. 

From then on it became an interesting pursuit to find a landing place and to get our chaser team to find us. They tracked us the best they could but at some points I had no idea where they were. I was looking at fields where we could land but I saw no roads leading to them. I wasn't sure how and where we would finally touch down.

Once Dave found a spot that the wind and our balloon would agree with he explained to me what to expect while landing. When we were close to the ground he told me to bend my knees and the basket hit the Earth, bounced, dragged, bounced, dragged, stopped half way on its side. It then became a battle with the wind and the balloon had us leaning every which way in the basket. Dave told me to jump out and grab the rope that was attached to the very top of the balloon. I was supposed to be trying to bring it down to the ground but I chose my battle carefully because I wasn't planning on having my arm ripped off. Once most of the air was out of the balloon Dave took off to find the road to meet up with the chaser crew. About 10 minutes later they were driving the truck and trailer into the vacant wheat field. We  collectively got the balloon packed up once again and we drove back to Jackson. We landed in a farm on Moscow Road having taken a 12 mile ride over the course of an hour.