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From: billphil*nospam*  (Badwater Bill)
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.homebuilt
Subject: Re: Lighter-Than-Air
Date: Wed, 01 Oct 1997 03:48:22 GMT

On 1 Oct 97 01:20:21 GMT, (Roland Escher)

>Hi Bill:
>interesting to know that you are a balloonist too. It really seems that
>you've been everywhere, done everything, gotten every T-shirt, almost.
>That's quite impressive.

Interesting data.  I haven't kept up on ballooning since the last
landing I made put me in surgery to rebuild my shoulder.  But believe
it or not, Boom-Boom loves ballooning more than any other kind of
flight.  I think I need to build a two person balloon to take her.  I
flew from Farmington NM to Las Vegas yesterday and all Boom-Boom could
say through her headset was how much she missed flying in balloons
since the wx was so calm and tranquil.

She just came up her to my office while I was writing this and again
said, "Oh man,,,,I love balloons, I wish you would buy us another
balloon."  You would have to know Boom-Boom.  She never gets up before
10:00 on a weekend, but she got up at 4:00 hundreds of times to go and
fly in the Raven AX-8 with me.  We flew it about 3 times a week over
the city of Las Vegas for years (in the winter months).  I worked a
good deal with Chrysler.  They sponsored me and paid for all the
propane, gas, and crew,  plus gave me a brand new pick-em-up truck
every year with a hydraulic lift gate on it to lift all the stuff.  I
had a transponder on it, a cellular phone in it and two com radios.
I'd call McCarren on the phone and tell them where I was, get a
clearance for takeoff and a squawk code.  I'd  launch into the TCA and
try to drift away from them at low altitude.  It was FUN!

It's funny thinking back about it all.  I took a bunch of my buddies
who were fighter jocks at Nellis AFB on rides and had them try to land
it.  I laughed until I turned purple many times.  Even the Navy guys
had a hell of a time landing it.  I had one Navy carrier pilot tell me
after landing that it had been the hardest approach of his life.
People who haven't flown balloons don't know how tough it can be to
shoot an approach and have the wind change on you in the last 50 feet
just to accelerate you towards some power lines.  I always kept paper
in the basket so I could tear small pieces off and drop them to get a
fix on the wind gradient below me.  It was a mind-game and a half to
say the least to try and land one of the big beasts.  And!! that's
another thing.  People think a balloon is this simple little whiff of
a thing.  Well, let me tell you all that my AX-8 had 9000 pounds of
air in it at one time.  Try and get a few big men on the ground to
stop that on landing by grabbing ropes in a 10 knot wind.  It can't be
done.  You better pop the top at about 20 feet and pray she stops
while deflating in time to save your ass.

Balloon flying is equal in danger to flying hang-gliders in my mind.
You have to be more intensely alert during approach and landing than
anything else I've ever flown.  PERIOD!  That's why I don't do it
anymore!  Just getting old I guess.  Not afraid to die, just don't
want to spend the rest of my life in a wheelchair as a quad. or brain

This will probably create some interaction from many of you but I had
a simple and great flight yesterday.   The wx was perfect.  I took off
from Farmington NM in my Comanche, put the auto-pilot on with alt-hold
and turned on some classical music.  Then I sat there and talked with
Boom-Boom through our ANR headsets about the week-long trip we just
took exploring many of the national parks and Telluride Co. while
cranking along at a GS of 190 mph.  Boom-Boom was happy and slightly
hypoxic at 12,500.  The thought crossed my mind to take advantage of
the situation but... I had to remain alert you know!!  Well,  that was
a good flight anyway, not a bump!  We listened to the entire forth
movement of Beethoven's 9th twice.  It was a religious experience.  I
did deviate a bit once.  I punched "George" off over the Kiabab
Plateau and went screaming down a beautiful canyon on the north rim of
the Grand Canyon at 9000 msl.  I always wanted to buzz that valley at
10 feet. The birch trees were all yellow and red, it was magnificent.
I had been in that valley many times when I was a kid and dreamed of
someday having enough money to have a high performance airplane that
would fly down that valley at 200 miles per hour.  Well, I did that

Many of you probably wonder why I would take the Comanche on this trip
instead of the RV-6.  Well, the RV-6 is much more fun.  But those of
you who fly with your wives will know instantly without me even
saying, why I took the Comanche!   Boom-Boom is a normal woman.  She
has to unload every clothes-drawer in the bedroom when we take a one
day trip, let alone a 7 day trip.  Hell, I had the baggage compartment
and the back seat loaded with clothes, camera equipment and junk she
HAD TO HAVE!  So, don't be judgmental on me.....I had to do it!  My
poor RV-6 sat in it's hangar all week just obediently waiting to fly,
but couldn't!


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