This is the final post of my balloon rally catch up series from 2011.
At the end of August we headed up to McMinnville, Oregon to attend the Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum Loose Goose IV Hot Air Balloon Rally for the first time. For aviation nuts the museum is home to a large variety of civilian and military air and space craft including the Spruce Goose. One of the 3 buildings that houses all this equipment is an indoor water park with a 747 on the roof with slides coming out of the doors that then drop into the building. We heard it was quite an ordeal to get the 747 from where it landed across the highway to the roof of the building.
The first morning was a slow float out to the surrounding farm fields. The rally gives each pilot a certificate to have the land owner sign. The land owners are then put into a drawing for tickets to the museum, this tends to keep everyone happy. Where Ernie landed the land owner was happily moving from balloon to balloon signing the forms and increasing his chance for tickets. Of course no rally is complete without a balloon glow but balloons don’t usually get to glow in-between jet fighters. The glass walls of the museum provided some interesting reflections of the balloons as they were glowing.
Sunday was my turn to fly and of course it was breezy and an unusual direction for the winds in that area. After some talking with the locals and waiting for a clearer indication of what the winds were doing I took off behind the first balloons with 2 gentlemen who leave their wives at home every year for 2 weeks of traveling to different aviation museums. One of them was a bush pilot from Alaska so I thought this might be boring for him but he was loving the sensation of floating. I was told that landing spots were fewer on the track we had but that is a relative concept. While the fields were a little smaller and fewer than they were in the direction the day before they were significantly bigger than most of what we have in Southern California. The tricky part was avoiding the 8 ft. tall hay bails.
Since we were in no hurry to move on we camped for the night and Ernie flew the next day in nearby Newberg with Vista Balloons. In order to do the requisite splash and dash in the Willamette River along his flight path, Ernie ended up dropping in a little fast and came out wet to the seat of the hopper. It is good thing he keeps all the documents in a ziplock bag since they also got dunked. It is also a good thing the farm fields are big since fast landings were had by all.