Please let me take the time to express my thanks to Glen Moyer and Jeff Jones for their contributions in the May edition. Ever since I signed on with DUATS and CompuServe my life has been so much easier! I would recommend these services to anyone-including students and crew! (CompuServe, and others, are available to anyone, for a price-DUATS is free to pilots and student pilots). We all (hopefully) know that we can never be cautious enough or teach too much about powerlines. While reading Mr. Jones' contribution to Hangar Flying it brought back up, for the multi-hundredth time, two more "what I (should have) learned" items.
A. No matter if the balloonists has ten years fixed wing experience, or ten years corporate/competition crew experience-one year piloting a balloon is a drop in a large bucket to ten (or more) years of piloting a balloon! There is always something to learn.
B. When a pilot (balloon or other aircraft) feels "confident and comfortable" with their "knowledge and with the equipment" then it is time for them to take to the ground rather than the skies and re-evaluate themselves. Yes, know your system, have respect for it, but still, having just that little bit of caution (or fear) could ultimately save lives!
These items may sound repetitive but-it just might be the time that someone remembers it!
I have done many weddings in my balloons over 17 years. All have been fun and many unique. My popularity as a New Hampshire Justice of the Peace probably stems from my 20 year guarantee. No clergyman in the state offers this. As far as I know only one of my marriages has failed, so I'm way ahead of the national batting average.
I thought your readers would enjoy this wedding announcement from my most recent wedding.
Maybe no wedding bills, but they had a balloon bill!
Milford, New Hampshire
Following are some reactions that Balloon Life received to our
editorial about the Balloon Federation of America in the April issue.
I am writing regarding your editorial in the April issue of Balloon Life which criticizes the [Balloon Federation of America].
There are some incomplete facts and inaccuracies I would like to correct, since I have first-hand knowledge of the situation described, and since I am a member of the BFA board. (However, I did not consult with the board or my constituents and am writing my own personal opinions.)
Your first inaccuracy concerns Mr. Murtorff's disciplinary action by the [Competition Division]. The message is not "don't question the status quo".
Mr. Murtorff, I believe, truly has the good of ballooning in mind. However, he has not in the past, and did not on the article in question, bother to check the accuracy of his "facts" when writing his Houston Newsletter. He presented as facts things that simply were not true, and I turn hurt the BFA/CD.
He also is a board member who by definition should support the organization. In addition he is held to a higher standard because of his position; people believe him without question.
Mr. Amundin, in turn, then reprinted the same false "facts", again without checking anything out. For that, the CD slapped their hands. The message is "Do not repeat or print things that are not true!"
Your second opinion is well-taken. The membership does not always get enough feedback on what's happening in the committees; a situation which at the last meeting the board has taken action to remedy.
Your third point regarding competition uses selective facts. The prize money for the championships does not come from the BFA or the BFA/CD. It comes from the event organizers. It is not the BFA's money to spend.
Your fourth point that the BFA is losing members is also not very accurate. Membership has been fairly consistent, with the exception of the surge and subsequent decline the year the balloon was given away as a membership draw-which was not a project we could continue.
Next, the issue regarding taping of minutes does not stem the desire not to communicate. The minutes had not been taped previously, and that made it difficult for the secretary to check the accuracy of his notes. Now he can. The issue is accuracy.
Yes, there is room for improvement, as there is in any volunteer organization. We are working on it, and I hope that soon you won't be able to print half-truths that will be believed because the membership will really know what is happening in all committees and on all issues.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
I would have thought that you would have asked a few questions-from the source before taking a position-rather one sided.
I want to thank you for the editorial you wrote in the last issue about some factions of the BFA. This organization has three major periodicals to tell the members what is happening in the world of ballooning. Ballooning, Skylines and Briefings. You would think that when one of the BFA's Board of Directors is placed on probation by one of it's committees it would be new. It was not covered in any of the BFA publications. Why all the secrecy? Is the BFA Board too embarrassed to admit this happened. Give me a break!!
At least there is still one ballooning publication that will tell the truth and now [2,000] BFA members that subscribe to Balloon Life know something has gone on.
Keep up the good work.
The Competition Division has reported on the probations in Briefings
since this letter was written. Editor
Thanks for the advance copy of your editorial. Please take your gloves off next time you challenge the CD. You are too kind.
St. Louis, Missouri
You said you were going to go out on a limb. You've go spunk, Tom. Good luck.