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Join date : 2009-09-04
Age : 22
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|Subject: My Balloon Adventure! Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:24 pm|| |
Rules of being a volunteer in a hot air balloon rally/ fiesta.
Rule 1: Go to bed early because you have to be there 5-7am! (dress very warmly!!!!)
Rule 2: If your gonna volunteer you better sigh up, get your stuff, and just wait till your needed.
Rule 3: Know you fellow volunteer's names, if you can.
Rule 4: Better do as told, or you might get hurt!
Rule 5: Do what your asighned to do as fast as you can.
Rule 6: If you get told something important, and notice a volunteer, or crew member who wasnt told you better give them the message.
JUMBO BALLOONS!!! How to set one of them up!
Two of the biggest balloons are the shuttle balloon, and the chili pepper balloons. From where I was standing I can really say that the shuttle is way bigger then the chili pepper! One thing for sure, the chili pepper balloon takes after its name, It's chilly in the mornings when your first blowing it up.
First thing to do is get it out of the bag its kept in, thats an easy part. Next is to take off velcrow straps that are used when the ballon is deflated so the air wont go right back where it came from. Then you have to get the peppers all straightened out, and seal velcrow holes on each chili pepper, and theres almost 60 all together!
It's easy when you have the right gloves, and your fingers arnt frozen from the cold, trust me, about 6 of us volentires were asighned the job.
About 20 feet from the chili pepper the shuttle balloon was being blown up, from what the crew said, the shuttle balloon is bigger then an actual shuttle, and the staue of liberty, thats a MONSTER of a balloon!!
After we got all the chilli peppers we could find closed we got ready to blow it up, thats a hard part. Me and another one of the volunteers- a senor citisen I think- had to hold up the opening of the balloon while it was filled up.
The pilot had us hold it up as good as we could while he had a mega fan blowing air into the balloon, and I'm serious when I say mega fan!
That thing was blowing like a 50-60 mile per hour wind, and it was blowing ice cold air, if youve ever taken an ice cold shower thats what it felt like, but worse.
I was on the right side of the balloon, and the other volunteer, Ed was on the left, and he was holding it up with his left turned towards the inside of the balloon, in my case I was oposite of him, I had my right turned towards the balloon, and the fan was on my side, talk about a wake up call. If I wasnt awake before I was when that cold air hit me, plus the sound the fan made could have made anyone temporaily deaf!
Ed was lucky until a second mega fan was set up behind him, what was lucky for him tho was that another person, maybe Ed's wife took over for him after maybe 5 minutes after that second fan was going, by then I felt like an ice cube in a snow man in an ice bath!
After maybe 3 minutes the pilot came over to me, and the girl who replaced Ed and shouted at us both what he was gonna do. I could hardly hear him but I heard enough, he was gonna put the hot air into the balloon and get it off the ground, we had to hang onto the balloon until it tried to tug us up, then we let go as the pilot told us too.
As it turned out the pilot owned the chili peppers, AND the shuttle balloon, so one moment he was at the chili pappers then the next thing everyone knew he was gone, I kept telling everyone he took off without his chili pepper balloon.
The pilot stayed to put the hot air in the balloon, and WOW that fire was hot, you could smell propane, or carasine, and the sound was like a huge deafening roar!
When we got the chili peppers blown up all of the volunteers had to lean on the basket as a break, and to keep the chili peppers on the ground, the owner said he wasn't gonna fly the chili peppers today, it was just for show. One of the volunteers on my volunteer crew said I was very brave for holding onto the balloon, and everyone said it looked like I was gonna blow away in the wind that the mega fans were making, even my mom said it looked like I was gonna blow away!
Now I was siting on the basket, not in it, but on it The owner told us to keep our weight on it otherwise the chili peppers were gonna fly, and I noticed some of them hadn't been velcrow sealed.
When I told the owner as he came to check on us he told me he had flown the chili peppers with 15 maybe 20 of them open! I stared at him until the person in the balloon put fire into it to keep it in the air, the sound was scarey but the warmth was good, everyone kept taking their hands off the balloon trying to warm up their hands, atleast they kept their arms on the balloon, otherwise me and the volunteer pilot would have flown up!
I ducked my head everytime the Volunteer pilot turned on the fire to keep the balloon up, the roaring sound scared me, and the heat was intense.
After about 10 minutes the owner said that the shuttle was gonna launch, and asighned us to the shuttle. The shuttle didnt launch for about 5 minutes while everything was being set up, and I got to look inside the top of it, you can't even see the top of the inside like on the chili pepper balloon!! finaly the shuttle launched and went up like a real shuttle, all of us volunteers admirred that, then got all the stuff for it put away, cuz we were gonna chase the shuttle!!!
Balloon chasing. (A.K.A., shuttle chase.)
When we got everything packed up it was time to chase the shuttle.
Every balloon has a chase team, thats the team that chases the balloon and deflates it when it lands.
We all got into the shuttle balloon owners truck and left the balloon area to chase down the shuttle.
The driver kept talking into a radio saying "Shuttle chase to Shuttle balloon", I'm sure you can guess which one is which.
We chased the shuttle balloon for about 10 minutes and maybe two miles, we took a wrong turn however, and had to do a U turn, not easy when your in a cramped space and you have a balloon trailer your towing.
After 5 minutes the driver named Jerry, and one of the shuttle crewmen had gotten us unstuck, Jerry's a good driver to do that!
Maybe 3 minutes later we got to where the balloon was about land, it looked like it was gonna land on a house at first, but the pilot, and 1st crew chief Chris blew more air into the balloon before that happened, so it nearly landed in a sticker field, it looked like sticker bush country.
Some of us had to get over a barbed wire fence to grab handles on the balloon basket, and drag the balloon up to a few empty house lots, thank goodness there wasnt any construction there, yet.
How to deflat a (monster) balloon.
Basicaly when we got the shuttle on the ground Chris pulled a rope and half of it deflated, some of us had to make sure the wings didn't hit the barbed wire fance, or the street.
Me, and two teen boys named Carlos, and Raymond had to get the wing headed towards the street while Jerry and a few others kept the other wing away from the barbed wire fence. When Chris told us what to do we all started to roll up the left wing, the one me, Raymond and Carlos had been assighned to catch. We all agreed that this balloon was a monster balloon, it took all of us 20 minutes to get that wing rolled up becasue of all the air still in the balloon!
It took us 45 minutes alltogether to get both wings rolled up, it took us that long becuase of all the stickers on the ground, as I said, it was sticker country, sticker plants, sticker bushes, and thorny stickers.
A bunch of us kept getting poked so that delayed us becuase we kept having to pull thorns out of our shoes and socks, plus stickers and the ones that got into our gloves, that delayed us all 10 minutes altogether, plus a 5 minute break after we got the first wing rolled up.
After we got the wings rolled up about 5 of us started to roll up the nose of the shuttle balloon while Chris dug into the middle of the balloon looking for the hole that was suposed to let out all the air, when he found it he started to joke saying the balloon was the worlds biggest set of bagpipes and he started to mess with the hole. About 5 maybe 8 feet from him about 3 of us were laying down on the ballon forcing the air to the hole chris was holding open.
It took about an hour like that and chris switched off with me after 30 minutes, his legs were falling asleep and I had been standing around holding the velcrow strapes for the ones deflating the balloon. When Chris switched off with me I gave someone the strapes and did as Chris told me while he walked off the numbness.
Eveyone deflating joked about the ones laying down when they got to where we were, that took 40 minutes even with chris helping them. we all joked about everyone laying down telling them to start helping and half of us wanted to join them so everyone switched off.
I'm one of the only ones who didnt lay down. It was me, Chris and one of the shuttle crewmen who never laid down on the balloon, he just sat on it because he was the one straping it as it was deflated.
After we got to the halfway point we pulled over a metal wagon that was used to transport the balloon when it was deflated, and we started to put the deflated balloon into a huge bag there, that took alot of tug and pull and push, becuase the wagon was very easy to move, 3 of us pushed the cart and held it in place while some of the others hoisted the flat balloon into the bag in the wagon while about 2 of us pulled the balloon towards the ones hoisting.
After a while we all finaly got the rest of the ballon deflated, now all we had to do was get the rest of it into the bag, that took 5 minutes cuz of how heavy the balloon was.
That balloon alone weighs about 1200 pounds! Definetly a monster balloon. The basket that goes under the balloon weights about 100 pounds with NOTHING in it give or take, all the helium canisters, and the other stuff addded to the weight, so that was about 400 pounds right there.
What to do afterwards....
What you do afterwards is basicaly up to everyone, we were all hungry so we headed back to the balloon rally area while Jerry told us the weight of the balloon and all that.
When we got back to the balloon area we all got hot dogs and hambergers and started to chow down. As I said what you do afterwards is up to you, you can stay, or you can leave.
After eating I told the shuttle, and volunteer crew I worked with goodbye and left.
Last edited by Wolfy on Wed Mar 24, 2010 6:33 pm; edited 9 times in total