Clear to Climb
Personal recollections of a quarter-century of hot-air ballooning
Paul H Brockman
Copyright 2006 Paul H Brockman
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Saturday the eighth of September, 2001. Preflight briefing began as usual—in the dark. By the time it was over there was daylight enough to see flags and banners flapping in the wind. The length and breadth of the Rancho San Raphael Park, everything capable of flapping, was flapping. This was more than just an omen, it was a direct message to anyone who wasn’t actually in a coma. It should have been a trigger for the self-preservation instinct that had served me well on other occasions. This time my mind must have been elsewhere. Flight service reported a surface wind of eight knots, borderline for the ‘go for launch’ decision. The organizers considered their options and then decided to go ahead with the event.