Winter Fogs

Amazing – it’s been a whole week since we last flew the balloons. Every day this week has been foggy, ranging from haze (about 4k to 5k visibility & 80% to 100% cloud cover around 300′ to 500′) through to the complete pea-soup variety (100 to 200 meter vis and 100% cloud cover at 100′).

We tried on Monday as it looked like the fog wasn’t going to roll in – hah – part way through inflation it rolled in and we had to cancel, packing up everything and heading home. Since then, it’s been like living in a hazy white pingpong ball. Even in the afternoon it’s still been hazy with only about 6k to 8k visibility.

At least now it looks like we’re done with the fog – no fog predicted for tomorrow. Nope – no fog – the high winds and rain are driving it away…


7 days without flying – wonder if I’ll remember what to do when we launch next… :)

General Update

Still here, still ticking along. The work as crew chief with Balloon Sunrise is going well and I’m working my way towards a commercial balloon pilot license. I’m no longer with the AWU but am still doing some tech support for Crumpler.

I had applied to become an Air Traffic Controller and made it right through to the end. After a number of all-day exam sessions, I wound up getting rejected due to not having the right personality match for the position. Basically, they figured I’d not be comfortable being shoved into their mould and would get bored and want to leave. It was a bit of a shame but well worth doing. I’ve logged the experience and am in the process of revamping my Fly Me Friendly section so it’ll show up there eventually.

Nykolai is with his mom in Buenos Aires (Argentina) visiting family for a month. Kinda wierd not having him around.

The car is running well after a recent tune up – still got lots to go on it – new exhaust, new suspension, probably new brakes then fix up the body work. Slowly getting there with it as funds permit.

Flying over the valley

There were a couple of spare spaces on Rob’s flight in the Yarra Valley this morning so, seeing as we weren’t flying in Melbourne (nasty weather), I took Nykolai with me for a flight

It was great except that Nykolai spent the last 20 minutes trying to hold back an urgent need to go to the toilet. Bit hard when you’re in a basket at 4,000 feet. When we landed, we tossed him out of the basket, at which point he let me know that he really needed to do slightly more than just a quick pee….


I took him over to some bushes and he had a pee, but decided that here was not the place to do a quick squat. Fortunately he managed to hold on until we made it back to the winery for breakfast – there he broke a few speed records as he sprinted from the truck to the toilets :)

All good in the end – he’s saying he enjoyed the flight and is happy to go up again. Guess next time he’ll be careful to really try to go to the toilet before we fly…

Grand Final – the aftermath

Yesterday was the AFL Grand Final, held here in Melbourne and featuring the Sydney Swans and the West Coast Eagles – both teams from out-of-state (Sydney and Perth respectively). Apparently it was the closest, most exciting grand final ever and really packed in the punters. A friend of mine was doing a trip to Fort Worth (Texas, USA) for work and he was listening in with workmates in the hotel room. Not bad for a bunch of “foreigners” :)

The only drawback to the whole thing was the amount of glass on the roads this morning. I was crewing the balloons this morning and there was glass everywhere. Smashed bottles, tiny crunchie bits spread through lanes, you name it. From Richmond into the CBD and around, it was all I could do to dodge it – most of the time I had to drive over it and just hope it wouldn’t puncture a tire.

So yeah, the grand final is a big thing here in Melbourne. Yeah, it was a close game. Yeah, the fans can go wild. Yeah, it’s party time – but hey, how about a little respect out there, huh? How about you wankers with bottles learn to control them, eh? Assholes who throw and/or intentionally break bottles around the place should be forced to walk over it with no shoes.

Bet you they’re the some dickheads who bitch and moan about aircraft or balloons flying overhead :)

Learning to sew…

Spent some time on Saturday with Darren from TroubleChute Rigging learning how to make repairs to parachute/balloon material. Basically, it involves using an industrial strength sewing machine, strong materials, lots of measuring/marking/cutting and some funky ways of folding bits of material around other bits. The end result is a strong patch that covers the area where rips/burns/etc were made in the fabric.

To say that my first one was a dog’s breakfast is being kinda nasty to dog food. The second one, though, was pretty good and, although not up to Darren’s high standards, would have passed inspection if done as a real balloon repair. It’s a good start but there’s still so much more to learn.

This is all part of my studies towards my Maintenance Authority for balloons, an official certification from CASA that will allow me to make, and sign-off on, repairs to balloons. More on that in another posting.

Wouldn’t you like to fly…

One of the benefits of working with Balloon Sunrise is that occasionally you get a chance to go up and fly over Melbourne in a balloon. If there’s a spare place on board, we try to get a crew member that’s not working to have a go. In addition to being a bonus for the crew, it’s also good for them to see what it’s like up there.

My turn came around again today – what a hoot! We flew from a set of ovals in Kensington to Moorabbin airport. A great flight and lots of fun.

I managed to get a few photos and will load them on the site soon(ish).

I must be crazy!

I’ve stepped back to part time at the AWU – still doing geek work with them but now mostly afternoons. This gives me more time to get my shit together and do some consulting here and there. I’m also working more with the balloons in the morning (as will eventually be documented over in the Fly me Friendly section of this site – one day :)

Of course, it means a bit of a drop in income but it’s good for my headspace…