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April 29, 2001 - Training Flight

We get by with a little help from our friends

[Click on thumbnails to see full size pictures]

Flying together

Bill Costen in the distance

Our shadow
We're flying this morning from Kathy Wadsworth's field in Farmington, with a surface forecast out of the NNE at 6kt. We're joining 4 other balloons - Bill Costen, Erwin Dressel, Bill Wadsworth, and Robert Zirpolo are also flying today.

Santo and I have arrived without crew this morning, and we gratefully accept the assistance of Mike Russell and birthday girl Kristen Brighenti, two of Robert's regular crew. Mike agrees to chase us, rather than have us fly off without a chase, and get picked up later. This is the kind of inter-crew assistance that makes ballooning so great - thanks, guys!

Santo takes the controls for the first part of the flight, using the opportunity to demonstrate some precision approaches. I also quickly snap a couple of pictures of the other balloons.

There's a right turn available close to the surface and, after I take the controls, we decide to try for a touch-and-go at Robertson airport in Plainville which, at 6:20am, has no traffic. However, after going a little too high in the southerly drift, we find that the right turn is not as pronounced on descending, and we realize we'll miss the target. In fact, if you look at our ground track, you'd be forgiven for thinking we did our best to avoid the airport!

After a while, we decide on a large field ahead and to the left of our track. We go back up to track back left, descending just ahead of the field to ride the slight right turn into the field. We land at about 7mph, and vent hard to stop the balloon. Mike is right there and, after he comes to us, he and Santo walk me close to the vehicle access track into the field, where we deflate and pack up.

Our GPS ground track from today's flight. We flew from north to south.

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