Balloons Over Albuquerque
October 2002
Page 7

Lift Off of Flashback

During our first full day at the balloon fiesta, we had the good fortune to come across Gary Moore preparing to launch his balloon "Flashback." Gary and his wife Diana are the owners of "Wanderlust Hot Air Balloons". We watched every detail of launching a balloon up close with Gary explaining things as he worked. In the process, I learned a new balloon vocabulary. (To learn the meaning behind such words as: - Cold inflation - Hot inflation - Flying the box - Zebra - and more, see the Glossary page)

Tom checks out the basket of Gary's hot air balloon

Tom and I asked questions as we watched the progress of Gary's crew getting ready for a flight. I was impressed at how little room it takes to store and transport a hot air balloon system. Everything fits in an ordinary pickup truck, which includes the basket, the envelope in a big bag and a portable fan.

Only a few instruments are required to fly this type of aircraft

First the basket was unloaded from the truck. I looked inside and found a very simple set of gages and controls. Gary installed the burner and connected it to the propane tanks. With that done, the burner was tested with a loud roar and flames leaping for the sky. It was a sound of raw power. With the test of the burner complete it was time to get the balloon out.

The balloon envelope is spread over the grass with a lot of activity in the background

The balloon was rolled out on the grass behind the pickup truck and the basket was put on its side. Then the balloon envelope was spread out across the field to make it ready for inflation. Suddenly the portable fan came to life with a roar. The fan is made up of a blade that looked like a wooden airplane propeller surrounded by a protective grill. Power to run the fan was supplied by a gasoline engine. The fan was used to cold inflate the balloon. I really enjoyed being so close to the action.

Cold inflation process begins to fill the balloon envelope with air

Hot inflation begins heating the air as Maury turns off cold inflation fan

As it turned out, Gary asked me if I would like to help and of course I said, "Yes." It wasn't a big deal, but it was fun anyway. Gary showed me how to shut down the big fan used for cold inflation and how to back the fan out of the way. So, shortly after lighting the burner, Gary gave me the signal and I did my small part pulling the fan back and shutting off the gasoline engine that powered the fan. It wasn't long until the heated air in the balloon caused it to begin to rise.

"Flashback" begins to rise to a vertical position

Gary gives a blast of heat with the burner

Balloons everywhere came to life around us. All over the field, balloons lifted to a vertical position, as they were hot inflated. Once in a stable upright position, the pilots waited for the okay from a Zebra to allow the balloon to lift off. Gary's balloon became vertical along with others in the line. A zebra went down the line giving lift-off instructions.

Balloons all around us were coming up while Gary prepared to lift off

Flashback waits for its turn to lift off as Tom, Nora and Kay look on

After Gary's balloon was airborne, we continued to watch the ascensions taking place all around us. It was awesome; balloons could be seen in all directions. It was after all the balloons were up that it was very easy to see the Albuquerque box in action.

Flashback is airborne in a crowded sky

I would like to thank Gary Moore and his crew for taking the time to tell us about what it takes to prepare a hot air balloon for lift-off. It really added a lot to what was already a fantastic experience.


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