A dip in the river…

During my almost 35 years of flying hot air balloons, I gave hundreds of rides, many of them to first timers. I periodically meet someone who tells me how thrilled they were with the ride they took with me years ago.

And to my embarrassment, I honestly don’t remember a lot of those rides and the people I gave them to.

That happened last week when a woman at our church told me how much she enjoyed a ride I gave her in 1985, which included a dip in the Rio Grande as we floated up the valley on a spring day. I of course knew her, but I had completely forgotten about the ride I gave her.

She said it was wonderful, but that when I dipped into the river, water seeped in the bottom of the basket and got her shoes and feet wet.

And no, I probably don’t remember who was in the basket with me on this flight…

I asked if she remembered when I gave her the ride. She said she knew it was 1985 and thought it was in April, when a mutual friend of hers had asked if I could give rides to a group of visiting teachers from England.

I looked in my first pilot log book (I’ve filled up three over my career) for the month of April 1985, and there it was. My notation said I launched from the old school in Mesilla and flew north up the valley and landed on a river levy after we crossed over the Rio Grande. I did a total of four takeoffs and landings that day and noted that the last one was a “water landing.” I did not note the names of any of the passengers, only to say the flight was “with English school teachers.”

I’ve looked at several other flight entries and discovered that I was not very good at identifying who I gave rides to. On some days, I would make up to five takeoffs and landings, meaning I had flown at least 10 people on that day.

I wish I had been a little more diligent when filling out my pilot logbook at the end of each flight and had written down the names of everyone I flew. I’ve flown a few semi-important people in my flying career — former Dallas Cowboy Bob Lilly, the New Mexico State Fair Queen (I was afraid my burner was going to set her cowboy hat on fire), a president of New Mexico State University and some big-wigs from Wells Fargo. Those people’s names I noted in my logbook. But I as a reflect back over the years, everyone I flew was important and I should have recorded their names.

2 thoughts on “A dip in the river…

  1. I think I will take your advice and start noting full names of people. Right now its just initials..
    Miss you! Hopefully you can come and see my balloon soon!


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