AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 74

If balloon instructors are scarce, imagine scheduling an LTA designated pilot
examiner. Smith recalls driving 11 hours
to Hartford, Connecticut, in 2012 with
Hurricane Sandy right behind. " I did the
oral part on the phone with [the examiner]
and then took the practical just before the
hurricane hit, " he recalls.
The year Tailwinds Over Frederick
opened for business, the Smiths planned
20 flights and flew 40. Each year business
grew as people spotted the flying billboard.
The fourth year they flew 120 flights before
purchasing an eight-passenger balloon that
enabled them to cut back on the number of
flights while toting more passengers.

INSIDE THE ENVELOPE, Patrick Smith
shows the author how he preflights
the bag by checking the control lines
and the parachute valve, the 25-foot
bull's-eye at the very top of the
balloon. This valve can be used to
help control the balloon in the event
of a big gust of wind.

FLOATING

Fully inflated, the balloon is ready to go.
The crew holds the lines while the pilot
and passengers step into the gondola.
Smith adds heat to the air in the balloon
and it lifts off, taking its cargo with it. Every
1,000 cubic feet of air heated to a delta
of about 100 to 110 degrees produces 20
pounds of lift.
Smith carries a handheld radio to communicate on the common traffic advisory
frequency-the control tower isn't open
yet. The passengers are treated to a leisurely, low-level view of the Earth not
afforded by fixed-wing aircraft and certainly not by airliners.
And it's amazingly quiet. Aside from
the occasional shush from the burner as
Smith keeps the air heated and buoyant,
there's no thrum of an engine or wind rushing along control surfaces. Floating over a
housing development near the airport,
Smith often overhears people conversing
on their decks.
It's so quiet that, as the balloon crosses
Interstate 70 and crests the Monocacy
River, it surprises a herd of deer drinking
in the shallows. For one long moment they
don't know exactly what they're looking at.
Then they bolt into the woods.
Smith doesn't know exactly where he'll
touch down yet, but, based on the wind
direction, he has a goal in mind: a housing
development under construction just south
of the airport. He has radioed the ground
crew to let them know so the van can be
in position when the balloon approaches.
Now it's a matter of easing down by dumping hot air without coming in too quickly;
even landing at 7 to 9 miles per hour can
be jarring in a wicker basket. Passengers
74 | AOPA PILOT June 2021

are instructed to hang onto one of the rope
handles in the gondola and bend their
knees slightly in a sort of brace-for-impact
stance, but while the landing is solid it is by
no means a tooth-chipper.
The lack of control may be unnerving to another fixed-wing pilot, but it's
now second nature to Smith; besides, he
can control the balloon-a bit-by adding
or releasing hot air and using a cable that
turns the balloon clockwise or counterclockwise, much like the teacup rides at
Disney World.
The gondola settles onto a bumpy patch
of grass while the crew scurries to secure it
and assist the passengers. Then the whole
process repeats itself in reverse: The envelope is deflated, folded, and inserted into its
bag; cables, tanks, and burner removed and
stowed; gondola packed away. No one has
called 911-a cause for celebration.
The Smiths say they love the social
aspect of hot air ballooning, and that is
easy to understand. Friends and family
come out to help. Nearly every flight is a
celebration-a birthday, an anniversary, a
graduation. Passengers are excited to be
there, and no two flights are alike.
" We have so much fun, " Meagan Smith
said. " The stories we get to hear!...It's
neat to be a part of [the celebrations] in a
unique way. " 
AOPA
EMAIL jill.tallman@aopa.org



AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021

Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Intro
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover1
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Contents
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 2
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 4
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 5
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 6
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 7
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 8
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 9
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 10
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 11
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 12
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 13
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 14
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 15
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 16
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 17
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 18
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 19
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 20
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 21
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 22
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 23
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 24
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 25
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 26
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 27
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 28
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 29
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 30
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 31
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 32
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 33
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 34
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 35
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 36
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 37
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 38
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 39
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 40
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 41
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 42
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 43
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 44
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 45
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 46
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 47
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 48
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 49
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 50
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 51
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 52
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 53
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 54
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 55
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 56
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 57
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 58
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 59
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 60
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 61
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 62
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 63
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 64
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 65
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 66
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 67
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 68
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 69
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 70
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 71
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 72
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 73
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 74
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 75
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 76
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 77
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 78
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 79
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 80
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 81
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 82
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 83
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 84
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 85
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 86
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 88
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 89
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 90
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 91
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 94
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AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - 112
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover3
AOPA Pilot Magazine - June 2021 - Cover4
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