Adventure

A Day of Ballooning in Colorado Springs- an excerpt from an AOW Pilate.

When one thinks of flying in Colorado visions of snowcapped peaks and mountain valleys come to mind. Though we do fly in these locations, the reality is most flights take place on the edge of the Great Rockies where the deer and the Antelope play. From Pueblo to Fort Collins balloonist play a variety of flight pattern along the Colorado Foothills. My family has been flying in Colorado for 33 years. We have landed in darn near every field visible from I-25 between Pueblo and Castle Rock.

     In Colorado Springs we fly in the mornings just when the Alpen Glow begins to heat the earth. At 6,000 feet the air cool and crisp in the AM, winds three-six
-zero @ six. We inflate our aerostats to the morning song of the Meadowlark. If the bird is not singing then we probably head from home. The steady north breeze requires a tie off and harness, make sure your rope is good and that is another story. Our launch sites vary but we fly in the vicinity of the Colorado Springs airport, class C. Good communication with the tower is required as our flight path crosses two runways. “Colorado Springs tower hot air 5047 Charlie. “Squawk” 47 Charlie Springs Tower, winds three-three-zero @ seven. Have a good flight.” Our aircraft crosses three-fove left @ 100 feet with a piper cub taxiing below. The plane rev’s his engine and off he goes to banking over the horizon. The pipers are cute but the 727’s shake the entire gondola, quite a rush.

 

     The view of Pikes Peak dominates the skyline at 14,110 feet. As we climb to 9,000 feet five mountain ranges to into view, the Sangre De’Cristos, Spanish Peaks, Ten-mile range, the Sawatch Mountains and the entire Front Range. Keep climbing steadily higher to find the slower east winds and the views, which keep stretch to 100 miles. Longs Peak and Denver, Kansas to New Mexico the plains reach out to infinity. The sun’s rays puncture through the high cirrus clouds and dance on the grasslands below beckoning us to join the show.
     “Colorado Springs Tower, Air Force Thunderbirds requesting clearance for launch on three-five right.” Squawk “Thunderbirds clear for launch.” A special treat for us here this morning in a military town. The Thunderbirds are here for the football match against army yesterday afternoon. 1….2….3….4…5….6…7 the F-16’s streak less than 1,000 feet away.
     The dip tubes are pinging it’s time to descend and run out the breeze to the south. The Great Plains grasslands are deep here in the rain shadow of Pikes Peak. Antelope are abundant with yearlings frolicking as the Coyote is planning his attack. Our stealthfull balloon sends the whole bunch running; the coyote never had a chance. In the next draw over the cottonwoods are thick so we swoop down to pick off a leaf. If you pull just right a rose is created that you know is sure to delight. Gobble! Gobble! Gobble! The big tom turkeys busts from the roost scaring us half to death. We all get a laugh as we try to recover from nature’s own blast. At the end of the draw the white tales run free from the protection of the cottonwood trees.

 

     A toast to the day and our fine morning of ballooning in Colorado Springs and all of its glory.
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