Experimental Balloons at Post Mills 2015

The 10th Experimental Balloon and Airship Meet was held May 15-17, 2015 at the Post Mills Airport in Vermont. The event, which was open without charge to participants and spectators, is organized, managed, and graciously hosted by veteran balloonist and balloon designer, Brian Borland. This year nearly 40 balloons lifted off from the single grassy runway.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

The event drew many photographers. It is hard to resist photographing colorful balloons, especially after a cold, black-and-white winter.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Two of my good friends agreed to be the chase car team for Leo Burman and Danielle Francoeur from Montreal. Then, at the very last minute Leo decided this plan might not work that well and offered his place in the balloon to Sally.  Here he is making the offer. Sally seemed both pleased and apprehensive about her first balloon ride.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

The lift-off is seen on the left side of the photo below.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Here is a short slide show of Sally’s ride. As was said many years ago, “Ride Sally Ride”. I wonder how many remember that reference to the first American woman in space who rode on the second flight of the space shuttle Challenger in 1983. Talk about Experimental Aircrafts!

The light breeze of Friday evening carried the balloons to the north. One launched early then suddenly the sky was filled with balloons. Below is a view looking toward the south end of the airport at 7:14 pm.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Below is a slide show of photos from Friday evening.

Sunday morning came with a bit of light fog. It made for a nice,  though less than dramatic, sunrise and some soft light on the balloons on the south end of the runway.Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Meanwhile Brian was preparing to launch the balloon he first flew in New York in 1971.  As he stated, modern balloons have an opening at their top with a parachute-like seal covering the opening until the balloonist wants to descend. But back then, any opening at the top of the balloon scared Brian. So he designed a balloon that could be deflated by turning it upside down, so the basket-less balloon would not drift off into the distance.

Here is Brian inflating his classic balloon and going for short ride.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

The slide show below shows the balloon being deflated by inversion after the basket is removed.

But Brian still had more tricks up his sleeve and more experimental balloons to fly. Would you believe a balloon shaped a bit like a wingless airplane travelling not on the whims of the wind but steered by a propeller? Here is Brian with the prop attached to his basket, and also after he is airborne but before he started the propeller spinning.

Brian Borland and Experimental Balloons at Post Mills Brian Borland and Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Brian cruised around the airport while other balloonists were going basically nowhere due to the almost complete absence of even a light breeze Sunday morning. Later in the week the wind would pick up and blow with a ferocity that would have made any ballooning impossible. Sometimes event organizers get really lucky. Here is a slide show of Brian and his propeller-driven balloon.

Spectators enjoyed the show.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Some balloons had only a seat for a basket.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Some balloons had less than even a seat for a basket.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

The lack of wind made it a great morning for photographers — the balloons stayed close so they could be photographed in many configurations.

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Young children very much enjoyed the show.  All were very grateful to Brian for staging such a marvelous event.

Brian Borland and the Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Experimental Balloons at Post Mills

Below is a slide show of other photos from Sunday morning. It sure was a great balloon event. Thank you Brian.

If you would like to see photos of Brian’s Museum and the 2014 Experimental Balloon Meet, please click HERE.

Fox Sparrow

A fox sparrow visited our Etna yard yesterday. It was very cooporative, at one point walking to within 4 feet of me.  It was hard to resist taking many photos.  Here are a dozen.

Mink Brook Preserve May 3, 2015

The trail along Mink Brook west of Rt 10 was very quiet.  Only a few birds and ducks. But I found a pocket of yellow-rumped warblers — perhaps as many as two dozen — and a few ruby-throated kinglets along the Quinn Trail to the east. But the star of the show was a beautiful palm warbler.




Even a beaver swam by.


Here is a slide show with a few more photos from along Mink Brook Sunday morning.

Meanwhile in my Etna yard, a white-throated sparrow scratched for food, several pair of purple finch have been around for days, and a yellow-rumped warbler made a brief appearance. And lots of juncos kept the chickadees company. Here are a few photos from my yard.

The previous blog post tells a brief story of one man in Nepal.

Earthquake in Nepal

Many mourn for the people of Nepal.

7 Moody Lane Etna, NH 03750 603-643-4149

Chhongba Sherpa in Nunthala, 2012

Chhongba Sherpa in Nunthala, 2012

My good friend, Chhongba Sherpa, was injured in the avalanche at Everest Base Camp, flown by helicopter to Periche and Lukla, and then to a hospital in Kathmandu. He is now at home in Kathmandu, but I do not know if that is because his condition is good or because of their severe shortage of hospital beds. However, he was sufficiently well to email me and state optimistically, “Nepal is in trouble but it will be better soon.” But I fear the country needs many donations, particularly to organizations that really understand the  country and have associates who live there.

Chhongba is a one-man NGO doing amazing things to help the people of his home region with some financial help from the US, particularly Leeli Bonney and her Tara Foundation USA — power poles to bring electricity to remote villages, bridges so children can get to school safely, blankets for those who cannot afford them, building a home on his land for a Rai porter and his family. The list goes on.

Maila Rai's home.  The corner of Chhongba's home is seen on the right.

Maila Rai and his family

The home Chhongba built for Maila Rai and his family, a porter who works with him often, is shown above. On the right side of this photo is a corner of Chhongba’s home in Nunthala, a four to six day’s walk from Everest Base Camp. Maila, his wife and daughter are show at the right.

Chhongba also reported that his son, Mingmar, is back safely in base camp. He walked from Camp 2 to Camp 1 and was then helicoptered down to base camp since the previous route through the Khumbu Icefall was impassible.  Chhongba also said that he hopes to visit New Hampshire in May. I very much look forward to seeing him again.

This photo at the top of this post was taken less than a day’s walk from Chhongba’s home village of Nunthala. That is quite close in the mountains where most everything is many days’ walk.

Photos of Mingmar and Chhongba at Everest base camp in 2012 can be seen in this post: http://www.jimblockphoto.com/2012/06/tribute-to-two-young-sherpas/