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Be on the Crew

The hot air balloon and the pilot are just a small part of what it takes to make a successful flight.  Just as important is the balloon crew.  Without a good crew, the flight would never take place.  The crew is needed for the three major evolutions of the flight:

  1. The setup
  2. The chase
  3. The recovery

During setup, the crew helps pull the basket and envelop from the trailer or truck and lays it out.  They then take key positions during inflation such as holding the fan, holding the throat of the envelop open for the air, and holding the crown line at the top to stabilize the balloon.  Once the pilot fires the hot air into the envelope, the crew helps put weight on the basket to keep the balloon from taking off before the pilot is ready.

After the balloon is in the air, the thrill of the chase is on.  The crew takes to their vehicles and follows, or attempts to lead the balloon.  A good crew can anticipate just enough to be at the eventual landing spot to assist in landing (although the pilot is capable of landing with no assistance from the ground crew at all).

Once the balloon is back on the ground, the crew helps pack everything back up.  Finally, as is customary in every flight, it is ended with the traditional champagne toast.

Lay Out the Envelope
Holding the Throat
Setting the Top
Weight On
Taking the Burners Off
Loading the Basket
Gathering the Envelope
Carrying the Envelope
Packing the Envelope

Copyright 2008 Robert H. Cooper

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