July 24, 2010. Hot air balloons always put a smile on our faces, so Paddy and I headed toward Readington, NJ for the festival. Years back, we attended the festival from inside, with the many interesting activities, and the cars, the planes, the food and of course the inflating and launching of all the balloons. The last several years we found balloon chasing to be lots of fun, so this year we chased balloons.
Since the balloons go up around 6:45 PM, we stopped for early dinner at the Fox Hollow Golf Club Restaurant in nearby Branchburg, NJ. The scenery was beautiful, and the food was delicious.
We drove toward the Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ and found a parking space on one of the side streets, about a half mile from the airport. As soon as the balloons took flight, we took photos.
Having discovered the wind direction, we got back into the car and headed over the back roads to see if we could find a landing site. We missed quite a few balloons as it seemed that many had touched down shortly after take off. We got lucky when we spotted the very beautiful American Flag balloon touching down.
We saw the pilot on his cell phone and after he got off the phone, the chase crew arrived with a large trailer.
The photo below shows the two key players who made this balloon flight possible: Pilot and owner Barry DiLibero (left) and his Crew Chief, Lew Powell.
The "AMERICA ONE" balloon was quite colorful and made photographing fun.
Pilot Barry DiLibero, picked a very attractive volunteer from the crowd to roll along the edge of the balloon to push the air out.
There was no shortage of volunteers and under Barry's direction, they packed the huge balloon into a rather small, compact package.
Crew Chief Lew Powell and his helper took care of securing the burners and the basket.
After the initial balloon wrapping was completed, Crew Chief Powell directed the volunteers to load the 550 pound balloon into a storage bag, which was inside a heavy duty wagon.
Another volunteer was asked to climb aboard the storage bag, to weigh it down and pull the ropes to close the top of the bag. The wagon was subsequently pulled into the trailer.
Paddy (black top), and her new friend Laura, really enjoyed the balloon adventure.