This Strong-Arms-Saturday is brought to you by Greg Esser in Washington, DC:
My uncle brought his hot air balloon down to Baltimore for the Annual Preakness Hot Air Balloon Festival. Some friends and I volunteered to crew for the balloon and help him get off the ground. Sharon Weeks, David Zurbuchen, Josh Stafford, Lindsey Getches, Jessica Lavassuer, and Andrew Boddorff helped at various points. We had early morning flights on Friday and Saturday and 6pm flights on Thursday and Friday.
Crewing for the balloon entails hauling out the envelope (balloon), basket, and frame and stretching out the envelope on the ground. A gas powered fan is used to cold fill the balloon and then propane burners are used to heat the air. During the inflation, two people need to hold open the throat of the envelope while one person untuckes the extra balloon fabric and then transitions to the crown line (a rope tied to the top of the envelope) where they control the envelope during inflation. All tasks are complicated by even the most docile of breezes. After the balloon is hot and inflated, it takes off in short bursts of flame and the 'ooohhhs' and 'ahhhhs' of the expectant onlookers. We pile into an SUV and try to follow the balloon on the ground. After about 45 minutes of following on the ground, the balloon lands and then we deflate and pack it up. This involves pulling open the top vent to allow the hot air to escape and then squeezing out the air manually. Afterwards we pack the balloon into a special bag and sit on the bag to get the last couple of air pockets out. Most of the activities are aided heavily by pairs of strong arms. Enjoy some of the pictures we snapped during the adventure!
Looking up into the balloon.
The crew sitting on the balloon packed bag.
What exciting things do you have planned for Saturday? Feel like snapping a picture of your own Strong-Arms-Saturday, send me a picture and I'll post it along with a little story and a link to your website or blog (if you have one): E-mail Me!
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