Metro New York Balloon and Music Festival

Brookhaven, NY

August 10-12, 2007


I was invited to fly at the Metro New York Balloon and Music Festival, a new balloon festival on Long Island.

Because of concerns with the flying area being "congested", the FAA decided beforehand that I would only be allowed to fly on the grounds of the Calabro Airport, where the event was to be held -- meaning short hops within the confines of the airport. However, the festival organizers were still interested in having me attend on that basis, and part of the deal was an opportunity to do a flight from Connecticut across the Sound to Long Island as part of a promotional pre-festival event. The Sound crossing really sounded fun -- the other really did not. But as it seemed to be a package deal, I agreed to do both. As things turned out, the Long Island Sound crossing was cancelled due to weather, leaving me with.... flying around an airport. Phil and Debbie Rutan were there as my crew for this event.

As it turned out, it was a bit windy from the wrong direction on Saturday afternoon, so no one flew off the field. I hope to do some hopping down the airport runway, but learned that all but the very end of it was closed off due to the set-up for the fireworks. I climbed up to the top of the ATT balloon to wave at the crowd briefly, but it was windy and hard to stay up there.




We stored the balloons overnight, and on Sunday morning I got to have a bit of fun. That morning, the winds were light, but from the wrong direction -- the hot-air balloons that actually wanted to fly (other than hopping across the airport) had to go take off somewhere to the north and fly in to the airport. Some did that, while the big special shape balloons inflated for display at the airport; a few sport balloons did some hopping around the airport with me. As things ended up, I did three short flights across the airport, starting off on one of the runways and landing each time over by the special shape balloons. After that, we put the reporter from a local TV station up on tether, as well as several balloonists and crew.

It was, in short, a lot of fuss and expense to go through for not much flying. However, the FAA inspector did get a chance to see me fly around and stick three perfectly safe landings over by the special shape balloons; he later e-mailed the balloonmeister that I'd be welcome to do a real flight off the airport if I came back next year. And I got some interesting photos of me with some of the special shape balloons, which appear below.


I tie down to the back of the truck and we drive across the airport to launch out at the edge of the runway.

This is a RE/MAX event, so my balloons are arranged in RE/MAX red, white and blue bands, like the RE/MAX hot-air balloon.



I take off. The wind is a lot faster just a couple hundred feet up, so I release some balloons to level out and descend a bit.




I float over toward where the special shapes are on display.


Cheryl Hughes




Robert Ondrovic


Here I am with the U.S. Flag Balloon.


Robert Ondrovic


Robert Ondrovic


And here I am with the soccer ball and football.


Chip Paris



Phil Rutan


I actually did 3 flights, being towed back down the runway by the truck each time. The take-offs and landing were good practice -- I normally only get to do one of each per outing, and it's really the most skilled part of flying.

Here I am with Chesty, the USMC bulldog balloon.


Cheryl Hughes


Robert Ondrovic




And here's Trish Whidden flying on tether. It was her birthday, we later learned -- the perfect day for a cluster balloon ride.


Phil Rutan


So that's what it's like to go bopping around an airport. It was not one for the annals of cluster ballooning -- but even so, it's hard not to have fun with a big bouquet of helium balloons to float around with.



Celebration XLIX

Crew Chiefs: Phil and Debbie Rutan

Crew: Chip Paris

Special Thanks to: RE/MAX of New York, Metro New York Balloon and Music Festival (Bill Whidden, Balloonmeister)

Photography: Phil Rutan, Chip Paris, Robert Ondrovic, Cheryl Hughes, Marisa










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