BattleCreek and Goodbye to “Birk”

I should explain the title to those who may not understand. BattleCreek is a city in Michigan and each year around the 4th of July they host an air show and Hot Air Balloon Competition. I’ll fill you in on how balloonists compete further down, I also need to explain “Birk”.

 James “Jim” Birk has been my great friend since birds and balloons were the only things that flew. He has also been the Balloon Meister at BattleCreek for many years and this was his last year being in charge at this competition. Jim is a singular force of nature when it comes to ballooning and balloonists, his intellect and wry wit enable him to corral the pilots whose egos are more inflated then their balloons. It is that ability to control the uncontrollable that have people address him as Jim when talking with him and “Birk” when explaining to others what happened. I have lots of stories about him, some that can be told and others ………..

 

About “Birk

 

What is a balloon competition?

Hot Air Balloon Competitions started like many other types of competitions have started after pilots gathering in social situations telling of their exploits in their balloons and someone said prove it.

It is a test of flying skills and getting your balloon steer in a left, right, up and down to get to a target and drop a marker. Competition has changed over the years, in the past observers were in the balloons to check on the pilots, those have been replaced with GPS. The balloons for competition have also changed, smaller balloons can go up and down faster and the Linstrand Balloon factory designed what are called racers that can drop like a rock and shoot up like a rocket.

I go every year to BattleCreek to compete and to visit with my bigger balloon family. Here are a few pictures from the event.

~Susan

 The Crew The Carnival Here is Matt Balloons in the air

 

First Flight of CRB&T

Getting ready to launch.
A look inside.
Straight up kaleidoscope.

Let’s make it HOT! 

See the Balloon!
Landing at Noelridge Park
Packing Up.
The Crew!

Next time we inflate I better not find anything that matches these on the balloon! ~Susan

Jan Bill Ryan Kristian Kristian Matthew Julie Lisa Tom

 

Safety First!

Each year or 100 hours (whichever happens first) the balloon must be inspected by a certified inspection station. Its great for us to be close to the Lindstrand factory and can take our balloons there to be checked.

Here “The Guy” is checking the inside of the balloon.
We had 4 balloons to check this year and it takes up a lot of space.
In this example of crew hard at work they are holding down the balloons because they are “Lighter Than Air” craft and could float away.
Looks like Laverne and Shirley are hard at work.
The sky was a bit threatening while we were inside with the balloons.
The basket shop.

 

Union Jack

My good friend Jack (from the UK) was traveling here in the U.S. and stopped in for a few days visit.

Jack in the basket, turn the crank and he pops up!

Jack was making the grand trip spending time ti Pennsylvanian , Texas and Iowa. Seldom alone, his travel mate from England Bob (not to be confused with English Bob) stayed home and missed an excellent balloon ride.

Everyone gathered around, having flown and landed we pack it in and head for the pub.

~Susan

Here I go again on my own

An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
Here I go again, here I go again
Like a drifter I was born to fly alone
Coming in for landing.
And here I go again on my own
Goin’ down the only road I’ve ever known
An’ I’ve made up my mind, I ain’t wasting no more time
Thanks Crew!

~ Susan

Goodbye to my Tennis Buds

Anybody who knows me knows that Tennis is my other passion. When I get a chance to do Tennis and Ballooning it’s magic.

Party @ the Hammond house and I brought the Big Party Balloon!
Weather would not permit a flight, but we had a great time tethering.
Miss Maggie assisting in the pre-flight checks.
Party treats for everyone, here is Maggie with deer antler.
Had a great time taking my tennis buds up in the balloon.

~ Susan

All By Myself

Good evening for Chris to do more “Solo” flying as he gets closer to his private pilot license.

We had a great place to launch from on the SE side of the city, we landed here last year and they had invited us back anytime. We’re Back!

so distant and obscure
Sticking the landing!
Don’t want to be, all by myself anymore.
Packing up.
Maggie doing her job.

 

~ Susan

 

Super Evening for Flying!

We launched from one of our favorite take off spots Valley View Baptist Church.

Miss Maggie on guard
Looking back as the crew gets packed up to chase.
View from above as we gently glide on soft breezes.
In the basket we have Lisa and Julie. It’s important to have the right amount of ballast.
Great shot of Buzzards Glory coming in for a landing.
Thanks Crew for another special night.

~ Susan