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Ron Behrmann, George Denniston,
Greg Livadas, Mike Rose,
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On July 8 Dr. Coy Foster lifted off from Kite Meadow ParkinPlano, Texas in the
maiden flightof hisSuper2superpressure balloon. Twelve hoursand 40minutes later
he landedjustnorth of Foster, Oklahoma. The flight covered 138 miles.
Originally planned for a 24 hour test, the time was reduced due to changing weather
conditionsandpotential terrainobstaclesalongthe anticipatedflight path.
During the flight Dr. Foster unofficially broke twelve world records. Because this
wasan information gathering flighthe chose not file for any record attempts.
The next flight will be a record attempt. Because of the tremendous temperatures
in the basket during the summer flight his next flight will be for the altitude record. It is
Superpressure balloons are notlikelyto become the nextrage inaeronautics, but
Benjamin Franklin is reported to havesaid in 1783 after being asked what use is the small
gas balloonCharles sent aloft that August, “Of what use is a new born baby?”
Two recent balloonrelated fatalities reported inPreflight remind us that we must
be ever vigilant in all phasesof balloon operation. Neither incident will be recorded as
a balloon accident, that not withstanding, whatcan we learn?
In the Kenya accident, it is doubtful we will ever know why the propane tank failed.
The tankwasnot part of the aircraft. It was usedonanalmost dailybasis over a long
period of time. It is likely that the tank was never inspected or held to the same standards
of airworthiness that the balloon was. It reminds us that every piece of equipment we use
has the potentialto harm. Maintenance and conditionof groundandaccessoryequip-
ment is just as important as the aircraft we trustour livesto.
contact hasbeenmade with a small line. Electricity is never tobe takenlightly.Never
attempt toremovea balloonfromlines,whether youthinktheyare turnedoff or not.
Alwaysletthe pros do it. Nomatter what.
The numberone rule from thePublic ServiceCompany ofNew Mexico’sPowerline
Safetyrules is:“Don’ttrytofree the balloon.Youcanendanger yourself,aswellas