Jack wrote this in October, 2005:
Hope your reality’s going just gaaaaaroooovy this morning. (There’s a word you don’t hear much anymore, grrrrrroovy)
Outside and down in the Rio Grande valley there are balloon firing off the occasional burst of glow. I suppose they’re the ‘scouts’… balloons that go up to see which way the wind’s aloft are going to carry all the Albuquerque Balloon Festival folks after daybreak. 700 of those things down there waiting to inflate this morning.
Brings to mind the first time I ever knew about the Balloon Festival. I was in the midst of writing Hell Bent for Santa Fe, at least doing the research for it. I’d been several days on the road from Round Rock, Texas, following the trail, examining the route and the bivouacs of the Texan Santa Fe Expedition of 1841, camping out of the back of a Ford Pinto.
I was listening absently to the radio as I got into New Mexico, and the balloon thing was going on.
Then things changed. A balloon basket accident happened, something exploded while the thing was on the ground ready to lift off, maybe four people in it. Balloon lifted afire…. people hurt, maybe a couple jumped out when it was about 100 feet, which was a bit high, then I think maybe the fire drove another one out several hundred feet high, while the last guy dropped down on a rope and hung there out of reach of the flame, a quarter-mile up in the air.
That went on for some while, the radio announcer telling what was happening each stage of the thing, the guy swinging off that rope, the balloon lifting and disintegrating above him. Suspense, listening to that. Reminded me of seeing old newsreels of the Von Hindenberg crash.
Anyway, finally the rope broke and the guy dropped however far he had to to get out of all this. Fairly spectacular way to leave the vehicle, as such things go. Most people are content just to lie down in a bed and have a heart attack, or get themselves wrapped up in a territorial dispute over highway space.
Nowadays, I think, they probably make them carry parachutes in those balloons at the balloon fest, but I don’t know it as a certainty.
In those days I was doing a lot of flying of fixed wing aircraft, might have been tempted to think ballooning might be fun, but hearing the description on the radio of what happened with that guy broke me of sucking eggs in that regard. When an airplane comes out of the sky it does it fast and honest, which is how I prefer things.
Anyway, the balloon festival’s tuning up. Whoopteeedooo.
Have a great one, blogsters.