"Takes Your Breath Away…" 15•May•09

“Up, Up, and Away…” Oh this was sweet! I still cannot muster the words for the hour or so I spent aloft with balloonist Chris Healey for a story last evening. Takeoff (or should I say liftoff) was perfect. Touchdown / landing was like a dream – even in the middle of the street in a residential bedroom community. Floating above our coverage area in the evening light was a treat of aviation accomplishment in it’s simplest form. The pilot is a pro & his ground crew top notch as I watched them unfurl and inflate the balloon. They were just magnificent to watch and grab a few frames of, while I was literally falling over myself to get a remote camera with a fisheye lens securely installed in time on the top railing of the gondola. I think the ground crew had the balloon out of it’s large storage bag and just about fully inflated in something like 15 minutes. That alone didn’t give me much time to secure my remote Nikon D-1X. This was the kind of assignment that a working photojournalist dreams of. Everything just worked and the images “pop” with color, saturation, and simple composition. With all that’s going on the world and in particularly in the news business I love so much, it was almost unimaginable to be at times literally skimming the treetops & rooftops, and within moments climbing up to an altitude of 1300 feet or so. For those of you that know me, my love of all things aviation, and the many friends I’ve made around the world at all levels of flying – this flight ranks right up there with some of the best experiences I’ve ever had – Anywhere. “Check this one off life’s to-do list…” -cg.

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