Previous flight  Next flight  Back to the main ballooning page

April 20, 2001 - Training Flight

Short but sweet!

[Click on thumbnails to see full size pictures]

Sunrise on the ridge
We're back at the parking lot in Panthorn this morning, with winds forecast variable on the surface, and about 13kt from the southwest at 3,000 feet. Carlos and Lisa are crewing today, and the setup is very smooth. We're ready to go precisely at dawn, and Santo takes this sunrise picture just as the sun finishes clearing Meriden Mountain.

Looking back at Panthorn
Since the weather hasn't started getting warm yet - it's 45F today - we decide to climb to more than 3,000 feet agl to dispense with another of the requirements for the commercial certificate. By the time we get to 1,000 feet we're already zooming along at about 20mph.

Here we look back toward the southwest. You can see Panthorn Park in the lower right quadrant of the shot.

North toward Spring St.
The world looks quite a bit different from 3,500 feet. Santo takes a few shots of the area. Here, we're looking north with I-84 crossing diagonally, and Rte 229 running from bottom to top through the center of the picture. Halfway between where I-84 and 229 intersect and the top of the picture, the open green area is the baseball fields at Spring St., a regular launch site. The farm fields just beyond are where I made my first practice landings in "Big Green" over a year ago.

Downtown Southington
We're looking more-or-less straight ahead here, at beautiful downtown Southington.

After spending a few minutes doing 25mph at 3,500 feet, we let the balloon cool into a terminal velocity descent, dropping fairly quickly before a gentle recovery where we continue to drop slowly to gauge the winds.

Southington HS
Since we've been zooming along at altitude, we're nearing the northeastern limits of where we have good landing sites without having to fly over New Britain and on into controlled airspace around Hartford, for which we won't have enough fuel, so we start a landing approach. It's going to be a short flight - about 35 minutes. We set up a nice drift north toward Southington High School (my landing site on my private pilot checkride), and it seems that we'll probably cover the few hundred yards to get there in a patient 10 minutes or so. That will require fairly precise altitude control, but I want to practise something more aggressive.

Instead, we pop up high, get into the northeast drift again, cross the road, and vent for a steep descent into a large field on the other side. As we near the ground, we get a significant back-up toward the south at about 3mph, and we land in the middle of the field. Lisa and Carlos come to us and we walk the balloon across the field (which Lisa astutely notes has had manure spread on it) to the adjoining grassy back yard where we deflate and pack up.

Our GPS ground track from today's flight. There was a push to the south close to the surface, and toward the northeast at altitude, as forecast.

Previous flight  Next flight  Back to the main ballooning page