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June 9, 2001 - Checkride

Southington HS...again!

[Click on thumbnails to see full size pictures]

Leaving Farmington
The fateful day arrives - the date of my commercial checkride.

We start with the oral portion of the exam before leaving for the launch field, and the talking doesn't stop until about an hour after we land and pack up. The hardest part of these tests, I think is the "doing and talking."

After a fairly uneventful setup and launch, Santo points to a field off our track, and asks me to talk through and demonstrate how to approach and land in that field, pretending that he's a brand new student on his first flight. He obliges by asking "new student" kinds of questions. We change altitude to get the correct drift, drop down pretty fast, and make a gentle landing. Of course, there are other balloons launching from the same field this morning and, as we make our rapid descent, a voice from somewhere above shouts "Brace yourself, Santo!" No respect.

Most of the flight is a blur to me. I remember being asked to find another of the balloonists flying that morning (distraction? - he turned out to be off to my right and about 1,000 feet below at the time). Then I was directed to get to where that other balloon was (climb, track right, drop down).

About an hour into the flight, all of the balloons are pretty close together, and all making an approach to the playing fields at Southington High School, to the great delight of lots of people attending an early morning event on the school's running track. The wind has picked up a little so we're going about 5-7 mph, but we have plenty of space. Here Clyde has landed in the foreground, and we're about to land on the other side of the running track.

How coincidental is this? On my private checkride, we also landed at Southington High School, except we flew from the south.

On the ground
After we land, Robert crosses above us to land further downwind, and then Mick Murphy lands behind us. By the time this picture is taken, Santo has walked us upwind, and we're getting ready to deflate. The grass is wet, so we're going to use tarps as soon as our crew, Al and Macarena, (who take this picture) bring them over.

You can see the breeze has picked up a bit from BG's upwind side

When we're done, we also help Mick deflate using our tarps, before heading back to Farmington for some champagne.

And I pass. This is too cool!

Today's GPS track. Again there was some pretty good variation in direction with altitude.

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