The Lake 2012: Day 1: Back to the Burners

Everyone staggering in for the morning briefing

It’s just before 6am and everyone’s staggering into the briefing room for the first welcome & weather briefing. Morning briefing on Day 1 always starts a bit earlier & runs a bit longer so we can get the overview & welcome. Roll call is taken to ensure that we’re here and (hopefully) ready to absorb the information being handed out.

I’ve been up for a bit over an hour, getting used to the brisk conditions and grabbing a couple of bits of fruit for breakfast. My initial checks of the weather information has me thinking we may not get this flight as winds are likely to be at the top of our acceptable range. Still, you never know! (it helps to be an optimist in ballooning :)

The welcomes & overviews completed, the weather briefing confirms that we’re in with a chance to sneak a flight in as we’ve had clear skies overnight which helps create an inversion, preventing stronger winds from mixing down to the surface. There’s also the phenomena where a slight pressure change occurs just as the sun rises over the horizon, dropping winds briefly & giving us a small window of better conditions for launch.

Sounds good, right? :)

Well, it all worked out OK and we were up & flying not long after sunrise despite being the last ones off the field (yeah, I’m rusty, OK? :) The flight took us from Werrimull Oval up towards Mildura and included some low level flying as well as fast flight at 2,000′ (about 50-60kph). I got to practice using the winds to try & catch up with another balloon (hare & hound). I’ll post a full report on the flight when I write it up in my Flight Notes but suffice to say it was fantastic to be back in the air once again.

Following the flight it was back to the camp for a cooked breakfast then we loaded the empty/used LPG tanks from Maaike’s balloon into our basket & I went into Mildura to refuel. It’s roughly a half hour drive to get there, about half an hour to refuel and then another half hour back to camp. Fortunately I’ve got lots of podcasts to listen to :)

The afternoon routine generally includes having a shower while it’s warm as I find there are few things worse than finishing a hot shower & having to dry off in cold air in the early morning or late at night :) After that it’s grab one or two sandwiches that have been prepared for our lunch then get online & work through some emails, reports & planning.

Afternoon briefing was at 3:30pm and it was confirmed that the winds were too high for us to bother trying to fly, so we continued on with our various tasks. For some this was studying & preparing for their theory exams, a few folks reviewed emergency procedures while for me I was still catching up on some items my “day job” and writing these blogs.

The social event organised for after dinner was a trivia competition with people arranged into teams based on the tables they were sitting at for dinner. A fun event but I had to bail out towards the end to record the latest Australia Desk episode for the Airplane Geeks. Standing outside in the cold chatting on a cellphone made for an “interesting” time. Fortunately it didn’t run too long :)

Lone Tree

It’s not uncommon to find a single tree in the middle of a paddock here

Day 1, Morning Flight, Landing Spot

We had a tip-over & drag landing, sliding about 20m before we finally stopped (the basket has been stood up again in preparation for packing it up)

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