Really Cool Discovery Flight...

Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by TRocket, Jun 29, 2017.

  1. TRocket

    TRocket Line Up and Wait

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    Took a discovery flight last night...well kinda. Got the lady a hot air balloon ride for her birthday. She was more than excited, has wanted to do it since she was a kid. We get there (the balloon had just gotten out of annual...yes, hot air balloons require an annual just like an airplane, never would have guessed that, but once I thought about it, not surprised).

    We got there, the pilot and his wife (also a balloon pilot) and crewman had us help them unpack the balloon, and get things going. Using a gas powered fan to fill it up, a bunch of propane fueled BTU's and we were up and away. It was cool as hell, started out cruising through tree tops and eventually made our way up to about 2000 AGL. The balloon even had an altimeter and VSI in it. The pilot was great, the ride was amazing, then landing was impressive. Just like we practice landing in a random field in the case of an engine out, these guys just land in a field, all the time. Only difference is, they have no ability to steer whatsoever. Load the balloon up and head back to the launch site, aka the owners back yard for some champagne.

    Awesome experience. I learned a lot, the ballooning community, which is very small but a very passionate specialized corner of the aviation community, is something pretty cool. Our pilot has been doing it for years. When he told me he was part of a small group in the late 80's to fly balloons up to 24,000 feet, I was beyond impressed and hit the guy with a steady strip of questions. Yes, FL 240 in a hot air balloon.

    Not that I would plan on doing this anytime soon, but one of these days, I might want to add a lighter than air rating to my ticket. Which I also quizzed him on, and apparently, the process a balloon pilot goes through to get a rating is just about the same as what us fixed wing guys do.

    So, if anyone is considering taking a ride in an aircraft that is 100% unsteerable, VFR only, and slow as hell... I highly suggest a balloon ride.
     
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  2. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    I did that 2 yrs back, awesome experience. The pilot had won some great achievements back in the day in a worldwide tour of some sort and had gone up to FL180. Though at that time I had no idea what that even means and why was it such a big deal. While landing I was surprised to see that he just ran into a tree top to slow the decent , my first tree top landing

    Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk
     
  3. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    How does a tree top slow one's descent? I can see how it slows lateral progress, but not sure about slowing descent while still making the landing a comfortable one.
     
  4. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    The tree holds some of the weight for a while. Reduces the total negative "bouyancy" kinda ... for a bit. Balloon and gondola don't have time to re-accelerate to the original descent rate before they're back on Terra Firma.
     
  5. skier

    skier Line Up and Wait

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    I keep thinking I need to take a ride in one, but like everything else I do in aviation, I'd probably ask if the pilot (hopefully a CFI) would sign my book saying it was a lesson.
     
  6. Justin M

    Justin M Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Years ago, I jumped out of a hot-air balloon. Great jump. The pilot had us in a slight descent as I jumped out at 5,000 AGL so the balloon wouldn't rocket up too high upon the sudden disappearance of all that ballast (me). Accelerating from zero to 110 I could really hear the wind noise increase.
     
  7. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Very cool. I took a balloon ride once and it was pretty awesome.
     
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  8. WannFly

    WannFly Final Approach

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    actually the guy I was flying with said if I am interested in learning, that hour will count and he can sign (at that time I didn't know what log book or signing means). I dropped the idea when I say we landed some 12 miles away and his crew (his wife) had to pick us up from there and it was a pain in the rear end to pack that goliath size balloon in a small box and haul it back into this trailer.
     
  9. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Most balloonists seem to gather a group of people who want an excuse to party post-flight to chase them around in pickup trucks and then they provide the food and alcohol as "payment" later. Or a significant portion of the food and alcohol, anyway.

    That's what I've seen from the most "successful" balloonists with dedicated ground crew who love chasing them around, anyway.

    They seem to like wine over beer. No idea why.
     
  10. asicer

    asicer Final Approach

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    Because red wine is served unchilled, perhaps?
     
  11. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    LOL... they can tote around hundreds of pounds of balloon and gondola, but not a cooler full of ice? :)

    I'm going to say, no... that probably isn't it. :)
     
  12. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Tradition maybe? The story I read claimed that balloon pilots carried wine to gift the landowner with upon their arrival. Sort of a minor bribe to make up for landing without permission.
     
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  13. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    Plausible. ;)
     
  14. eman1200

    eman1200 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    so I'll say that when I went on my balloon ride, yeah the ride was cool, but the post-party was really insane. it was for the NJ Balloon festival, which is pretty big so that might have something to do with it, but this party was WAY over the top.....closed off only for people associated with the balloon rides...fully catered, cold shrimp on ice, all the booze one could drink, live music, I mean holy shnikeys those guys threw a good party. lucky for me, this was back in the day when my liver wouldn't kick me in the bawls after I did my best to drown it.
     
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  15. denverpilot

    denverpilot Tied Down PoA Supporter

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    That's what I'm sayin'... the balloonists we know seem to have given it up when paying for the party for the ground crews got to be too big a bill. The ballon flying wasn't the expensive part. :)