… and there it was, this gigantic hot-air balloon.

what goes upEvery once in a while, something happens completely unexpectedly. Yesterday morning, we just happened to be nearby this balloon landing and wrap-up. It happened just outside Columbia.

IMG_20130629_081758Every balloon launch and landing has to have a Chase Crew: People who assist the pilot in launch, flight, chase, landing, deflation and pack up. The chase crew follows the flight on the ground in a Chase Vehicle, which is a vehicle used to carry balloon to launch site and to retrieve it at landing site.

IMG_20130629_081847The crew begins the deflation process.

IMG_20130629_082433Slowly, the air is being released and the canopy is pulled to the ground.

deflating

IMG_20130629_082630

deflating 02

roll upThe crew and passengers pitches in the roll-up process. The balloon is rolled in a snake-like manner and coiled into the bag.

wrap upEveryone gets to let out aggression by jumping and squatting on the bag to nestle the balloon into a more compact cargo.

IMG_20130629_084014Pilot Cliff Logan (left) and his chase crew member ready the basket for loading into the trailer.

Cliff Logan, Jr. is the owner of AE Balloon Flights, LLC. Cliff is a licensed pilot; an FAA licensed pilot must have “at least 35 hours of flight time as a pilot, of which 20 hours must be in balloons, 6 under the supervision of an instructor, 2 solo flights, 2 flights of at least one duration, and one flight to 5000 feet above the take-off point.”

Cliff’s manned free balloons are powered by a burner apparatus fueled by LP gas carried in containers. Here’s a good article from How Stuff Works explaining the dynamics of hot air balloon flight.

“All flights depart mainly from Jim Mack’s Ice Cream located between Hallam and Wrightsville, PA.”

A Columbia native, Cliff is a Columbia High School graduate.

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