WLPC Extracurriculars: Sunset Hot Air Balloon Ride

As it happens, another oddly specific niche community I’m involved in is hot air ballooning – And I happen to know a few folks in Phoenix who fly balloon rides almost daily. I’ve arranged for a group flight on the evening of Friday, Feb. 21, after the conference is over. We’d be leaving the hotel around 3pm and getting back around 8 – if your flight arrangements are such that you’re heading home on Saturday, come on out and have a fun flight with us. They have room for up to 36 people (in multiple balloons), so we can get a good gang out. And nobody’s going to look at you too funny if you bring some test equipment for a unique form of Wi-Fi warflying. If you want a Google’s eye view, this is the trip for you.

If you’re nervous about heights, consider that this doesn’t usually manifest itself in balloons (in the same way it doesn’t in an airplane), as your feet are not attached to the ground.

Cost: $175/person plus transportation to/from the Rainbow Ryders location (ride share, cab, something – if enough people are going I might find a van to rent)

How to book:

By Telephone (old school!): You may call 800.725.2477 and mention you’re with the WLANpros group, which will also apply the discount.

Online (new school!): Go to the Rainbow Ryders online booking page and select February 21. It won’t ask you for the discount code (WLANpros) until the very end, so don’t fret when you see a different price all the way through.

Important Note: This is a weather-dependent event – If conditions aren’t flyable (they’re almost always flyable in Phoenix, though), a refund will be issued. In which case we can all go have drinks somewhere. Or something.

Balloonar Eclipse!

Here in Kansas City, we’re on the very edge of the eclipse path, and it was a beautiful night for a balloon flight too. (KOJC 210053Z 34006KT 10SM CLR 22/09 A3013 RMK AO2 SLP196 T02170094). As I was out looking at the eclipse, along comes Jason Jones of Old World Balloonery with a load of passengers, and I got a balloonar eclipse as a bonus.

My crappy phone camera gave me neat lens flare showing the eclipse in progress next to the balloon:



Our receptionist at work and her hubby own a 1983 Beechcraft Bonanza (B36TC for you AvGeeks), and I asked her a while back if they’d mind taking Faith up for a ride sometime (this was around her birthday) and she said they should be able to do that at some point (although at the time the plane was undergoing its annual inspection). Yesterday, she pinged me and said that her hubby needed to go make a gas run down to K81 (Paola) from OJC. K81 is about 20nm from OJC, and is well worth the trip, as 100LL at K81 is about $1.25/gallon cheaper than it is at OJC. Big difference when you’re buying 80 gallons. Besides, there’s a great little BBQ joint in the terminal building at K81.

The flight was contingent on “Optimal VFR Conditions”, and today’s conditions were about as optimal as they get – crystal blue sky, mid 60s, and winds around 5 knots. The sort of day you’d want to play hooky so you can get up in the sky.

When I went to pick up the girls at school today, Faith was running around the room with her arms out, wanting to “take another fly around the room”… And I hadn’t ever told her (nor had her mother) that we were going flying. I think we’ve got a born aviator in the house.

We went out to OJC around 4:00 and waited for Dave and watched some planes come and go (bonus: there was another girl there who just turned 4, watching planes with her grandpa, and our girls made fast friends.)

We got up in the air, and Dave let me drive for a bit, which was fun. I’d almost forgotten what a thrill it is to ride shotgun, hadn’t done so in about 10 years, when I was on the company Cessna 414 for a previous employer. On the way back, he passed the controls back over to me and let me fly most of the way home (all of about 5 minutes, 20nm goes by fast at 160kts!). Sadly, Dave isn’t licensed as an instructor, so I wasn’t able to log the time 🙁

I really need to figure out how to pay for flight school. Paypal contributions happily accepted!

Looking east In flight, N819DK K81-OJC on approach to OJC RWY 36. The body of water is located just east of Quivira Rd between 191st and 199th streets.