“HOT AIR, WINGS AND FLYING THINGS”
Green River Festival Flies Despite the Hazy Hot and Humids
There were midday temperatures in the mid-90s, fog and haze in the morning, and thunderstorms passing through in the evenings. But despite it all 15 balloons at the Green River Festival in Greenfield, Massachusetts got in a couple of flights, a balloon glow, and a few tethers. On Friday night The Weather Channel radar showed a large thunderstorm passing to the south and other smaller thunderstorms well west of Greenfield, and it was very hot, at least 90. Balloonmeister Paul Sena called off flying at a 6:30 p.m. briefing with a thunderstorm closing in. A nasty little thunderstorm passed through the area around 7 p.m., but by 8 p.m. it had cleared, allowing eight or nine balloons to participate in a crowd-pleasing Balloon Glow.
Saturday morning there was light fog at the 6 a.m. briefing. The fog got thicker until around 7:15 a.m., when it finally started to lift and most balloons inflated. There was very little wind, and the first two balloons off flew about 15 minutes in the haze and landed back on the field. About six of the 15 balloons, including our Peacock, just hung around the launch field. The rest flew out, with most landing barely a mile away from the launch field.
Connecticut commercial balloonist Frank Bart flew five paying passengers in his big balloon basket. In a balloon blog, he talked about his interesting Saturday morning at Greenfield. Bart said, “We’re getting more ‘Bucket List’ customers lately than ever before. We just upped our passenger age record Saturday morning from 86 to 90 years old. We found out after the flight that they are only giving him a month to live, and living he is.”
Saturday evening there was a severe thunderstorm warning in effect until 9 p.m., and some thunderstorms on the Nexrad radar well west of Greenfield near Albany. It was again very hot, again over 90. Paul Sena called off free flying for the evening at the 5:30 p.m. briefing, but he kept open the possibility of two or three balloons tethering on the field if local conditions allowed. Local conditions allowed three balloons to tether, including Paul Sena who took up an event photographer, as well as professional balloonist Chris Mooney tethering the ReMax. Most of the other balloonists made do with a supper of rally-provided sub sandwiches and some excellent salads and baked beans at a gathering by the Bart’s big travel trailer.
Sunday morning there was light fog when we got to the field for a 6 a.m. briefing, not as thick as the fog Saturday morning. Winds were again very light, almost calm down low. When the fog became a manageable haze, most of the balloons had a nice flight south to north up the Connecticut River valley.