Thursday, September 20, 2007


Are you ready for some REAL excitment now with Suzy Blue?

This adventure took place on July 25, 1982. We took Suzy Blue out for just some pleasure flying. The passenger's this lovely, summer night were two of our faithful crew members, who you've seen in various pictures with us even in out of state
Balloon Rally's.

One of the ways we paid back our crew for all their long hours and help was to give flights whenever the opportunity arose. So Mickey, Jean & Ed were having a glorious flight. At this time, in Tulsa, seeing a Hot Air Balloon in the sky was still quite a novelity. We often felt like Pied Piper as we would realize the long line of cars following us on the streets below.

This night there was one particular single gentlemen who had literally been following us for almost the entire flight. Ever so often he would pull his car over to the side of the road, jump out with his camera and take pictures. We were quite use to this but this gentlemen was more enthusiastic than most. The three in the basket had been waving to him from above and myself and the chase crew with me had been waving and giving High 5's back & forth with him.

You can see from this picture that Suzy Blue

was heading straight for downtown Tulsa.

I am going to give you a little bit of a ballooning lesson as I go along in this post. I think most of you know that the balloon does not have a steering wheel and the pilot and the balloon are being driven solely by the wind currents. The application of the heat from the propane burner is used solely to rise or lower in altitude.

The communication between the pilot (Mickey) and the chase crew driver (me) was done by CB radio. The flight had been of a pretty long duration this evening and the sun was beginning to get closer to going down.

The real skill of a Hot Air Balloon Pilot is in the 1) inflation , 2) the lift off and 3) and most difficult, the landing. Suzy Blue had been flying for quite some time over a very heavy populated area of town. One of the main things the pilot is on the look out for is an area large enough to safety land.

You can see from this shot that Suzy Blue was flying fairly low as Mickey was keeping his eyes open for that safe landing spot.

He called down to me "TU is just up ahead and I'm going to put her down in the quadrant between the 2 buildings. Be sure the crew is there and ready to grab us because I'm going to have to put her down pretty fast and hard."

Now I understood exactly what he meant. The ideal situation is to slowly reduce the height of the balloon and gently glide her down to the ground. In this particular situation, the slow reduction of height and gentle glide were not going to be possible because, 1) there was a 3 story building to the South where Suzy Blue was approaching from, 2) there was another 3 story building looming up ahead to the North, 3) there was a rather small grassy area between the two. Mickey had to clear the first 3 story building, quickly pull the top of the balloon out (which is what lets the air out) and fall at a higher height and rate of speed than normal.

None of us, either in the balloon or on the ground, were concerned because Mickey was a superb pilot and the winds were calm.

This is a picture of part of the building taken as the chase vehicle and crew race toward the parking area and jump out of the vehicle in preparation to catch Suzy Blue when she lands. We knew she would bounce and we would have to grab her quickly.

Enter our friendly, constant, enthused, picture taking, driver!!! He pulled up to the curb, right in front of where Mickey was putting Suzy Blue down, jumps out of his car to begin his picture taking. I am SHOUTING, "GET THAT CAR OUT OF HERE!" It is too late. Suzy Blue lands just behind the vehicle and then drags across the trunk, smashing the rear window. Rises a little and lands on the grass as planned.

The chase crew is there to quickly grab the basket and hold it down. The person in the yellow shirt to the right top of the picture has been given the crown line by Mickey. She runs out with it and is pulling to get the balloon laid out on the ground. The basket is then laid over, the air is squeeze out of the balloon, she is then rolled up and placed in her balloon bag

This picture gives you a good look at the second 3 story building.

Here is the can see the man jumped out to do his picture taking so quickly he didn't even shut the door. When Suzy Blue is safely in place and everything has calmed down, Mickey turns and says, "Who does this car belong to?" This man, standing back a little and trying to be inconspicious, timidly raises his hand and says in a very meek and mild voice, "Mine".

By this time students are coming from every direction to see the Hot Air Balloon and all this excitement. We have quiet an audience

This is a shot of the broken glass in the back seat. Now comes the really good part. The car was a company car!!!! Mickey got all the pertinent information and gave him our information and told him our insurance company would take care of it.

All os us had a good laugh and thought how we'd like to be there when he went into his boss on Monday morningg and said, "I was hit by a Hot Air Balloon." "WHAT?" We would also loved to see the expression on the Insurance Agents and Adjusters faces.

One of the major expenses of owning a hot air balloon is the insurance. We were fortunate in the years we flew to have only 2 small claims. This one and one other, where a horse, out in the country, got spooked by the sound of the burner and ran through a fence.

Thanks for flying with Suzy Blue once again. Stay tuned for the next adventure!

post signature


FarmHouse Style said...

Thanks for the entertaining post. I needed a good laugh before I started my day's work.

I checked on the price of the house. $1,100,000. A little steep for my blood.
Have a great day.

Anonymous said...

Great story Susan. It reminded me of all the times we stood in our backyard and loved watching the balloons that would glide over the field behind us. I would just be mezmorized. I would never fly in one, but loved the sight of them!

diana said...

how fun - and exciting - and a little scary. i'm not sure how i'd feel if i were in the balloon and heading for tall buildings.

i appreciated your comment that mickey was a superb pilot. you would have to have the expertise and the confidence to fly a balloon. not too many people can say that they have that.

thanks again for sharing your ballooning adventures.

~ Amy ~ said...

YIKES!!! I don't mind watching from the ground but I will NEVER get in one. Too scary for me. Loved the story though - I look forward to more of them.

Karolee said...

Oh funny! Hope that guy learned his lesson.

annie said...

What a fun experience to have Suzy Blue!!!
Love the stories and experiences you share.

Susan Kelly Skitt said...

Oh my goodness Susan, what a crazy adventure! I could picture that landing! I also agree with Diana about your confidence in your husband, what a wonderful testimony tucked here in your ballon adventure!

BTW - What did the man say about why he was following so close? Anything?

We enjoy watching ballons and on our annual trip to NY state for vacation, there must be a ballon festival at the same time. The sky is sprinkled with colorful ballons when we pass a certain section... beautiful.

What fun you've had through the years! Thanks for sharing!

jennifer said...

What an incredible story!! I loved it especially since we did the same thing:) Of course we parked on the edge of the large clearing as Bill thought that if the pilot could..that would be where she would land!

Amazing and I would love to read the follow-up with the company!! Too funny on the company's dime driving all over following a hot air balloon...I bet they finally figured out why that guy was so unproductive!!!

Anonymous said...

I still want to go up in a balloon and fly!!! I was in a tethered one once, very noisy and not so much fun since we didn't go up very high. Oh, one day!!!

Thanks for the great story and the fun ride.

Kristie said...

What an adventure I love reading about your balloon days!!!!!

Lori said...

You had quite the adventures flying Suzy Blue. It sounds like you had lots of fun.
I have never rode in one. I too like watching them from the ground.

Karen said...

Oh, what a cool post! I never paid much attention to all the detail you go through to "fly" those things. I remember once when I'd just had Alaina, and Gordon called me just after he'd left for work to go out on the back deck and look up. There was a beautiful rainbow balloon about 30 feet up in the air right over our house. I'm just not brave enough to actually go up in one, though!

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

What an adventure! you couldn't pay me enough to go up in a baloon!

Mary@notbefore7 said...

Susan, What a great story. I have never thought about what it must take to "steer" and guide the balloons.

I am sure the driver is still telling that story today, as are you :)

Susie said...

That was quite the story! I still remember the bumpy land on a school playground for our one and only ride.
Glad to hear it was nothing more serious than this...

Momma Roar said...

I so enjoy my flights! I also love reading the dates and thinking back to what I was doing at that time!!

Wonderful post - looking forward to more stories!

Jungle Mom said...

LOL! You had quite the adventure!

Amber said...

LOL!!! Oh my, what an amazing adventure!!! THANKS!

0:) Amber

inspired said...

HiYa sUsAN
iT'S miLdEr hErE bUT nO sNoW AUtuMn
iS CoLorFuLL ;]

Barbara said...

Oh! dear this trip looked scarey though you make it sound like fun.

Like the clowns by the way.

Retha said...

This sure sounded like excitement!
I think I have only once seen a hot air balloon flying in our skies.

Jill@Who Could Ask for Anything More said...

I was thinking as I read further and further and then read about the car that insurance must be fairly expensive. Glad it was only minor. What a great story!

Mike said...

I'd LOVE to have a go at that balloon thing. Thanks for visiting my blog. I've enjoyed looking at yours. God bless.

Amanda said...

I'm so glad Myrna connected us. What a cool hobby to have! I loved reading this story and seeing the pictures. That's pretty wild!