Posts Tagged ‘hot air balloon’

Ballooning in the Adirondacks!

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Northeastern Pioneer Aeronauts Reunion

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Just back from a fantastic weekend, a reunion with around 100 folks who are the pioneer hot air balloon flyers from the late 60’s and 70’s who flew the early days of hot air ballooning in the Northeast. We had folks attending who were mainly still in the NE, but also who came from North & South Carolina, Colorado, California and Florida. It was a great opportunity to renew old friendships, share old tales, and just talk. If interested, you can check-out some of the bios and pics sent-in for the online Year Book. As a bonus, Dr Clayton Thomas was inducted into the Balloon Federation Hall of Fame at the Saturday afternoon event by Mick Murphy, representing the BFA.

In this photo is Ande Rooney from Port Ewen NY, Gil Foster from Stonington CT, myself, Chris Mooney from Woodbury CT, and Rick Pollock from Shelburne VT.

There have been a couple of books written on the “Pioneer Days” of ballooning by fellow Aeronauts — Tom Smith, “The Pioneer Days of Hot Air Ballooning”; Fred Williams, “Memoirs of an old Fat Balloonist”–I’ve got to quote you the Foreword by Brian Boland. “Fred is a BIG guy. When an individual who is bigger than life comes crashing into your world, it leaves a lasting impression. My encounter with Fred in the mid-70’s was one of those defining moments.

“It was at the 2nd Glens Falls balloon meet. …A buddy an I were flying along and began to notice that all the other balloons were landing. We climbed to take a good look and saw forest forever…saw a farmer below. I yelled down ‘What’s it like up ahead?’..’trees’. We dumped in for a last field landing,…”

“…we looked up to see a green and white balloon rapidly following our path. …’Ya gotta land HERE’…He may have already realized this as within moments the whole balloon changed shape…and he came in like a meteorite.”

“Then there was a huge rebound and what seemed to be a well-deflated balloon yanked the burner and then the basket walls and finally the basket floor for one last 20-foot balloon hop. Somehow, somewhere, the intrepid balloon driver managed to turn off the burner(but only after burning away a lot of said balloon).”

“We ran over, and there amidst the separated basket walls, floor, and heavy steel tanks was the largest balloon man I’d ever seen. It turned out there was another guy under him that I couldn’t even see! That’s my first real memory of meeting Fred Williams.”

And then, Fred just goes on with stories like this thru a prolonged hot air ballooning career in the book. We ended up naming a “Shit Happens” award at the Adirondack Balloon Festival after Fred’s caper on that memorable flight detailed by Brian.

Here’s an old pic of me from 1979 on the set (this scene never made the cut) of Woody Allen’s “Stardust Memories”. A generator that ran the lights, took up most of the room in the basket – no such thing as miniaturization back in the 70’s. Actually did a couple of flights with a running generator and only room for 1 – 10 gal tank of fuel. The flights were interesting, since it was North Shore Long Island, very near the LI Sound @ Planting Fields Arboretum. Those tales are for another time.