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April 23, 2001 - Tether

Playing in Mr. D's yard

[Click on thumbnails to see full size pictures]

Jim setting up
Our plan had been to tether the balloon as part of the festivities for Andrew's belated birthday party yesterday, but the wind was very high, and never really subsided. I'm as disappointed as Andrew, if not moreso, and I decide to give it another shot today. This time, I'll lay out the equipment and wait; if the wind dies, then I'll be ready to cold inflate and stand the balloon up within 10 minutes.


Santo is on hand to show me the ropes (groan) and give me instruction in tether operations. While we've talked about it, and done some informal tether rides after free flight landings, this is my first time setting up for a full tether.

The balloon is going to Berkshire Balloons for its annual inspection on Thursday, and it'll be more convenient if the tanks are empty by then (currently one is full and one is at 20% after Friday morning's flight), so that's another good reason to try. As if I needed one.

Cold inflation

Eventually the wind drops, and we spring into action. Standing beside the mouth is Bill Dougherty, my next-door neighbor, on whose lawn we're inflating the balloon. Bill has crewed for me a few times before and he is delighted with the proceedings. He is uniformly known by every kid in the neighborhood as "Mr. D," hence the subtitle of today's narrative.

The envelope starts to inflate under the action of the fan...

The crowd goes wild
...while a different type of fan (the youngest few present) jumps up and down excitedly on Mr. D's rock yelling "It's growing, it's growing!"

"Big Green"
Over the course of the next hour, we get about a dozen people up for rides, most of them more than once. I can see that several cars have stopped on our little neighborhood road for a look, no doubt surprised to see a balloon floating above the back yard!

Almost done
We're out of fuel just before sunset, so we make our final landing of the evening. We deflate the balloon with a lot of helping hands, and then I burn off the very last of the fuel in the tanks. We also turn the vehicles we've been using as tie-off points so that their headlights illuminate the pack-up process, and help us avoid leaving any small pieces of equipment behind in the approaching darkness.

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