South Dakota

(cont'd)

 

I moved off to the south, then swung slowly toward the southeast as I rose, taking me through the outskirts of Sioux Falls. The sky was clear, but there was a thin haze on the eastern horizon obscuring the rising sun, so the land below was still partially in shadow.

 

 

 

Outside Sioux Falls, the land turned to green farmland. I passed over the Big Sioux river. Based on the forecast, I was concerned about wind shear, but I accelerated smoothly as I ascended, until at 1,000 feet my speed reached about 30 mph, and remained steady as I continued to climb. I hoped Larry and Steve had gotten on the road quickly.

 

 

 

Off to the southeast were a couple of 2000 foot antenna towers, so I continued to ascend until at about 3000 feet my track had shifted from southeast to a bit north of east. The land below was flat and mostly green, gridded with north-south and east-west roads. I checked in on the radio with Larry and Steve; they reported being north and still a bit behind me.

 

 

 

Ten minutes later, I spotted what I thoght was the chase truck, which I verified with Larry and Steve by asking them to confrm landmarks I saw them passing. I felt better knowing they were with me. I directed them along the grid of roads, trying to keep them ahead of me and to the south, since that would probably be the direction I'd turn when I descended.

 

 

 

A couple of times, I asked Larry what the winds were doing on the ground. At one point, they were calm. Later, he said they'd picked up to about the highest level they'd reached during the inflation. Still later, they were calm again. Orv, the balloonmeister for the event, had told me that it was common here for the winds to calm a bit after the sun had been up for an hour, so I decided to give it at least an hour before I landed, unless things really seemed to be deteriorating on the ground.

 

That decided, I continued to keep an eye on the chase truck below, and enjoyed the green countryside sliding past below me while my wonderful balloon bouquet carried me across the sky.

 

 

Continued....