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October 2023

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October means one thing to most Balloonist.


It’s Fiesta Time.


I have been watching the postings on Facebook and I get a big smile on my face to hear about everyone going to Albuquerque for the big event!  It was many years ago when I went to “The Big One”  It is an exciting event and one that can test your skills in a big way.  Please BE SAFE.  Here are some great things to remember.  Not everyone who flies has the same skill level or even recent flight time.  Be super alert to all the balloons around you.  Some are flying only for the first time at the event and others may only have 5 flights under their belt this entire year!  Take an experienced ground crew with you to help keep you aware of everything around you.  Heck if you can take another pilot with you, do so!  Don’t fly over your head.  If you would not fly in the conditions at home don’t fly in them there.  If the weather conditions are marginal for your taste you certainly don’t want to be up there with 100’s of other balloons!  Fly to have fun and enjoy the experience and NOT because everyone else is.  Take the time to talk to your ground team.  Make sure they are aware of everything that is going on.  Tell them NOT to get in a hurry to chase, drive the vehicle FIRST and worry about the balloon second.  One of the things, that occurs way too often and does not make national headlines are the incidents on the ground that do not involve a balloon.  While I wish for everyone to have great flights I am hoping that ALL participants are safe, (in the air and on the ground).  Look for the Thompson’s Jon is flying for Rainbow Riders and Mom and Dad (Connie and Jim) are lurking around there somewhere as well.




I have been looking at the different options online for Balloon Equipment.  There are several places online, Facebook is the most common place I find things for sale.  The issue I run into is what if you are searching for a specific item?  A Tank or a Fan or just a Bottom End.  That is where most “For Sale” places fall short.  There is nearly, no way to find exactly what you are looking for without doing a bunch of sorting or scrolling back over dozens of things you have no interest in.  The Equipment 4SALE section on HotAirBalloonist.com is set up so you can find EXACTLY what you are looking for in just a couple of clicks.  When we say a couple of clicks we mean TWO.  In almost every case you can find a whole section of exactly what you are looking for in two clicks.  Here are just a few of the features of using the HotAirBalloonist.com Equipment 4SALE forum.




  • You can post as much descriptive text as you wish.


  • You can add as many photos as you like.


  • You can include details such as Price, Location, Hours, Shipping Options, Model, Make


  • You can also include all your contact information such as Phone, Email, Address, and best way to contact.


  • Return to your post and edit in any way you wish.  Add more photos, text or even change the price of your item.


  • In addition as a member on the site you can take advantage of the “Follow Feature” to be notified whenever someone posts a comment or question about your item.


I encourage you to have a look at the Equipment 4SALE section on HotAirBalloonist.com and see for yourself.  If you have equipment for sale, send me an email with all the details and I will create a 4SALE post for you!   




So we are expecting the new custom Balloon cups to show up here at the shop any day!  We have another cup in the works and it has 5 spaces left.  SO…  if you were one of the people who did not get a spot on the first cup but would still like to have your balloon on a custom cup here is your chance.  Go to this page. 




Fill out the form with your details, Balloon name and add a real good photo of your balloon.  Then when you submit that page it will take you to a page where you can purchase a case of cups.  To get your balloon on the cup you are required to pre-purchase a case of cups.  A case of cups is $325 and contains 500 cups (that will have YOUR balloon on them) When you purchase a case the price per cup works out to 65 cents a cup.  A super cheap souvenir to give to your passengers and crew! Also remember the cups have the Balloonist’s prayer on them!  Don’t forget to hide away a sleeve of cups for your own personal collection.




What did I do?


In the last newsletter I described a situation that was, in my mind, a super dangerous situation that could have ended up in a horrible disaster.  I asked the question what would you do?  This is a great topic at this moment with so many heading to Albuquerque for Fiesta.  Here is a reminder of what I was a witness to”




I was up in Helen GA for the Helen to the Atlantic event.  My father was going on a Gas Balloon flight at the event.  The afternoon flight was a go but things had not calmed down.  Everyone was told to use a tie off because of the thermals and very tight launch areas.  I figured I would walk down and help in any way I could.  As I was walking around the balloons I saw a balloon rolling all over the place in the gusty conditions.  I walked over to the basket to see if I could find the pilot.  What I saw seriously scared me to death.  The pilot had taken a rope tied to their pickup truck.  Ran the rope through the basket via one of the tank strap holes around the fuel tank and out the other tank strap hole.  So the entire balloon was secured by a rope around a fuel tank and wicker.  To make matters worse the parachute line, was lying about 20 up inside the envelope.  It was not tied to anything at all.  This means that if the balloon started to take off in a gust of wind someone would have to run INTO the balloon to grab that parachute line to deflate the balloon.  I have tried to deflate a balloon while riding along inside. It is nearly impossible to get enough friction on Balloon Fabric to pull out a straight pull parachute. Then, LORD HELP everyone if that rope tore that tank out of the basket and severed the fuel line!  So what would you do?




My solution was to immediately create a safe environment and explain to the pilot the issues I saw.  I went into the balloon and grabbed the parachute line.  Walked out and handed the line to one of the ground team holding open the mouth.  I told them if this balloon begins to move again to pull on this line as hard as they could.  I then walked over and shut off the fan.   I knew this would bring the pilot from where ever they were down to the basket.  It worked.  The pilot was over at the next balloon to the left talking to another pilot.  They came running back to the basket to find out what had happened to the fan.  I was there and told them that I had shut it off.  I asked them if they thought the rope thru the wicker and around the tank could lift that pickup truck.  I then explained that the balloon could. While they were very upset with my actions they also could see my point.  If a gust or thermal were to grab that balloon it would rip that tank right out of the side of that basket and there would be no way to stop that balloon.  We had a very productive conversation.  I then helped them get launched.


I urge each of you to keep an eye on your fellow balloonist.  HELP each other be safe.  Please not only be alert for potential situations with your own equipment and crew, but the others around you! Additionally, be receptive to constructive advice from others.  We know everyone does things differently but maybe, just maybe that other guy might have a good idea.  One of the stories I have told in the past and still rings true today.  I was a very cocky young pilot.  I had way more talent than sense.  My parents realized this and did not want to inhibit my drive and passion.  My father gave me a great piece of advice I still remember to this day.  “Even that guy who does 9 out of 10 things wrong is worth watching because the one thing he does right is something you may not have thought of”


 Learn from everyone and always be willing to share and……


Thank you for all you do for the Balloon World.


be safe





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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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