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April 2022


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Why am I getting this?

Some of you have never received one of our monthly newsletters.  Some of you may be receiving this when you may have unsubscribed from our newsletter. Please forgive me if you have unsubscribed and I have sent this to you unsolicited.  You may send me a nasty email if you wish at Info@HotairBalloonist.com  However; there is a reason for this.   We found a glitch in the system that we are trying to fix.  The HAB system was set up so that when you made a purchase you would receive a PasswordRecovery2.jpgmembership for a temporary period of time.  What membership and how long a time period depended on the item you purchased.  At some point during one of the installations of the many features on the site, the code for the membership timeframe became corrupt.  This means that some members were assigned membership privileges that never ended.   While researching this issue we have found members who have allowed their memberships to expire and are unable to renew.  Over the next few weeks (if you are not an active member) you will be receiving a membership invoice by email.  You may have never received an invoice in the past and that is our error.   We will send out the “Registered Guest” membership to most.  This membership is the least expensive and is only $5 for an entire year!  We sincerely ask that you support the HotAirBalloonist.com site with a small once a year fee of $5. This is a good time to upgrade your membership if you wish. There are many different levels available.   Here is a link were you can compare memberships and costs.  Should you get an invoice via email you have a 7 day grace period.  During this time you can visit the online store and choose a different membership should you wish.  When you select a specific membership package in the HAB Store you will have the option of a monthly or yearly term.  We value your support and participation on HotAirBalloonist.com.  If you have forgotten your password you can use the password recovery system on the site.  Just click the Sign link at the top right corner of the page and then click Forgot password.  If you choose to ignore the invoice your account will revert to a visitor status.    This is the reason we included everyone on this newsletter.  Please enjoy the rest of Aprils Newsletter.    

It’s beginning to look like flying season!

As the winter fades away and spring begins to bloom there are many things to think about before going out on your first balloon adventure of the year.  Many of you may not have flown for a few months or rarely.  This is a good time to review EVERYTHING!  From launch procedures to equipment to passenger management and more.  In this newsletter we will talk about some of the stuff we always like to review in the spring before we go out and have issues in the fields


If you use a trailer for your rig it needs a good looking over.  How are the tires?  Check the air pressure, Tread wear.  Look at the leaf springs!  I mean crawl under there and have a good look.  You could have broken springs that may not show on the outside.  How is the clearance on the tires?  If you hit a few bumps on the road are the tires going to rub on the frame and have an issue?  How are your bearings?  It only takes a few moments to grease them up or stop at your local oil change place and ask them if they can squirt a little grease in there for you.  How are your lights?  Do they all work?  Is the wiring worn or have issues?  Door hinges? Interior lights? Jack Stand? Hitch Latch?  What about the spare?  Does it have air?  A couple of hours of your time spent in the beginning of the summer season may save you some serious heartache or even potential injury or costs later.

Pouches, pockets, and your bedroom

What does your basket look like?  Would it take a moving van to get your stuff out if you had to sell it?  Now, we are not suggesting that you sell your basket but, when was the last time you took all the junk out of all those pocket an pouches and nooks and crannies?  This is another good exercise to start your flying season, (or at least once a year) dump out all of those pouches, pocket and junk holders in your basket.  In fact I even suggest you remove them all together.  At the very least, empty them out and even vacuum them out.  Heck you may be carrying 2 extra pounds of sand and dirt in there!  This is a great chance for you to take inventory of what you have on board and where it all is.  Nothing worse than desperately looking for something you thought was there only to find it has gone missing.  (Harlan Iowa “78” went down from 400 ft, very few will remember) 

Landowners and quicksand

Walk it first!  Every year in the spring we always manage to get a truck horribly stuck.  Many times in a field that we used all summer last year and we just forgot that in the spring the ground is like quicksand.  Over the winter it has been frozen and the snow and ice has built up a high level of water in the soil.  What was good hard ground all year last year is now muck and mud!  Many times what looks great to just drive in or on suddenly becomes a trap.  Any time you leave a road for the open field it is a good idea that someone walks out first.  Who knows how soft that ground may be or even if a huge storm may have come thru two nights ago and dropped a few inches of rain on that field. 

O Damn that was a hard one….

I remember flying passenger flights up in Michigan each year in the spring.  We would hardly fly all winter and then all of a sudden the weather would break and BAM we were flying a bunch.  We were rusty, out of practice and flying passengers.  Not the greatest of situations!  Remember there are reasons for the currency regulations and even more reasons for YOU as the PIC to know your limits.  Do not be afraid to look at your potential passengers and say NO.   I remember a flight where it was going to be a little on the aggressive side.  One of the pilots that day had only been out three times in the last month.  I was in a tough spot.  Let the pilot with the fewer hours fly the larger balloon with more passengers in those conditions and me fly the family with the 87 year old grandparents or….  Let the pilot whom only had three flights recently, take them.   I chose option #3.   I took them aside and explained the truth.  Today was not for them.  I told them that the conditions were rough and the potential for a hard landing was high.  I did not advise them to fly today.  I told them that if they choose to fly on a different day I would make sure they would be assigned to me in whatever balloon I was flying on that day.  Well, it worked.  They trusted me and came back a couple weeks later and we had a ball.  In fact the Son who arranged the trip for his parents became one of our regular crew.  You just never know but I was so glad I made that call on that day.

Registered Guest

Take the change from your pocket, just one day a month and use it to support the HAB site.  Just 42 cents a month!   That is all we ask of you to help us keep this wonderful online ballooning resource available.  The Registered Guest Membership allows you to have so many more privileges above a simple visitor yet has a one-time per year fee of $5.  Becoming a registered guest will allow you to see 8 more categories, view and read more than 100 more forums and doubles the areas where you can post and review topics.  You also gain additional benefits in the Calendar section, Download Center and the photo galleries.  ALL for 42 cents a month!


The Nylon Telegraph

We touched on this briefly in the last newsletter but the new category is set up and ready for use!  Here is a link where you can go and see a full explanation about the new category on HAB.


Here is a brief explanation of this new feature on the site.  The Nylon Telegraph is just what it sounds like.  It is a communication hub for ballooning.  As a member on HotAirBalloonist.com you have the privileges to post a topic in any of the 5 forums inside the Nylon Telegraph and the HAB system will send out HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of emails on your behalf, to other members of the site.  As a member when you get one of these notification emails you can log in and “FOLLOW” that post for more information about that topic of discussion.  One of the great features of this new category is that if you are not interested in the topic that has been posted simply DO NOTHING and you will near nothing more about that topic, however if you are interested in the post simply “FOLLOW IT”. 

Best of all, when creating a new post, you have the ability to add photos, links, emails and other contact information within your topic.  Some of the forums are viewable by visitors and some of the forums are only viewable by HAB Members when logged in.  Here are a few direct links to video tutorials that will help you create topics to post in one of the five forums.

“Starting a  topic”  “The Follow Feature”   “Posting a Reply”

Just for fun

Do you have a fun balloon story?  WE would love to hear about it.  We have an area on the HotAirBalloonist.com site for you to submit your favorite balloon stories.  Tell us about an even you have been to or a flight you had last summer that was special.  How about a lesson in weather or NOT.  Tell us about your amazing ground team or an adventure in recovering a balloon.  Here is an example of what we are talking about.  “It’s Just a trip to Iowa”  Share your adventures with the rest of our members!

April Fools

FAKEBRIEF2.pngSome may think this is a horrible trick but I will tell you from firsthand experience the passengers loved it!  Once they found out (or figured out) it was an April Fools Joke.  We issued our April REALBRIEF.pngnewsletter a couple of days early just so you would have time to have fun with this if you wanted to.  Here is a link to the actual briefing card we normally used for nearly 20 years and the FAKE card we used on April First.  Notice how we took the time to make the cards look extremely similar so that when they were laying out on the table or when you handed them out it was super hard to tell the fake one from the real one.  Only after you began to read them did you realize what was going on.


Forgotten GEMS

As I do, I spend quite a bit of time now a days at my computer working on web stuff and a bunch of it on Ballooning related stuff.  As I work on the HotAirBalloonist.com site I stumble across files that have been on the site for years that I forgot were there.  Many of these old posts or topics are well worth the read and today (unfortunately) most of us just do not have or don’t take the time to read.  Here is a great topic posted way back in July of 2014.  As we enter our 10th year of being online with the HAB site we are amazed at the amount of files we have accumulated.  A few years back we moved our entire site from one server over to a new server.  The task required moving over 35,000 files and database accounts.  We were thrilled that we did not lose anything and we managed to make the more with no interruption on the front end at all.  We urge all members to participate and share your wisdom, stories and advice with the rest of our members.  We have installed a mirror server so that if anything happens to our primary server and database we have a continual backup system so that nothing will ever get lost.

At the Thompson Compound.

I just wanted to say “Thank you” to all my ballooning friends and family for all the support you have shown our family over the last couple of years.  Between my hemorrhagic stroke and then our Noah’s Leukemia Diagnosis we have had a pretty rocky road of late.  I am happy to report that I am doing very well and have recovered better than was expected.  I am still on the No Fly list but I am still here and everything works and the memory is still intact.  Our son Noah is responding to his Cancer treatments as his team expects.  We have had a few scary bumps in the road but his attitude has been our saving grace thru all of this.  We are just past the half way point in Noah’s treatment and have just about one year to go. #noahsheroes   It is our hope that YOU will continue to support the HotAirBalloonist.com site and help me spread the love for our sport and pass along the collective knowledge to the new generation of LTA fliers who will be gracing the fair skies in our place.

Thank you for all you do for the Balloon World.

Jeff A Thompson

PS.  If you are interested in past newsletters they can be found here.  Also if you know someone who should be listed in our Notable Balloonists Category please send me an email.  I would love to get you in touch with my father who does a bunch of work in the NOTABLE BALLOONIST BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION category.


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Jeff A Thompson.  Admin@HotAirBalloonist.com 407-421-9322

44 year LTA pilot, BFA member since 1977, BFA Level DA-8, Ed Yost Master Pilot. 6500 flights, 5650 Flight Hours

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