South Carolina



I rose up over the festival and the surrounding town, and my balloons carried me off to the southwest.


Images © 2008 by C. Michael Hager,



I'd looked over a map and done some driving around with Larry prior to the flight so I knew that I was heading straight toward Donaldson Center, a former air force base now converted to an aviation industrial park. Steve Lambert, the pilot of the hot-air balloon, had talked to the Donaldson Center tower in advance of the flight, and warned them of our probable arrival in their airspace.

Steve had told me prior to the flight that his plan was to land at Donaldson Center, if their tower was OK with it, so that he could hurry back to the festival and do some tethered rides. Personally, I had some reservations about following suit. With the current wind speed, going to Donaldson Center would be a fifteen minute flight, which in addition to not being much fun, would not give the wind much time to slow down as forecast for landing. Also, airport tarmac sounds like it should be a great place to land, but my experience with it in my hot-air balloon was that its smoothness would turn what might be a ten foot drag in a grassy field into a fifty or one-hundred foot skid.



It was a beautiful afternoon to fly. Moving out past the outskirts of Mauldin, the land was mostly wooded, with a building or cleared field here and there. Ascending, I had a wonderful view of the countryside, with the city of Greenville off to the north.



Images © 2008 by C. Michael Hager,




I was coming up rapidly on Donaldson Center. On my aircraft radio, I could hear Steve in the hot-air balloon talking to the tower, trying to get permission to land there. I called the tower and asked permission to fly through. They kidded me a little about my unusual aircraft, but granted permission. I saw the hot-air balloon drop in low for a landing on the tarmac, then lost sight of them as I flew past.