The Ottumwa Courier


June 23, 2013

View from the ground


Her husband, crew chief Dan Maxcy, said that's actually one of the reasons balloonists like to fly in the Ottumwa area.

"People are usually gracious if you have to land [on their] property," Dan said. "Around here, though, they are even more gracious."

Kelly said crews usually try to get permission before a balloon lands on a farm. While hot air balloons are not precision aircraft, good pilots and crew members typically have a fair idea of where the balloon will be going. The chase crew will follow the balloon along. There are typically a minimum of two people in the car. The driver and a spotter. Having only one person to both drive and look up through the windshield wouldn't be safe, Dan said.

But in the 27 years he's been crewing, Dan said, he's seen the effect the house sized floating Easter eggs have on motorists.

"They should pull over to the side of the road if they want to watch," he said. "It's much better than driving down the road with their head out the window."

Another crew member asked if he had seen that type of thing.

"A few times," Dan answered. "I've seen people watching out their windshield drive into ditches."

Balloonists have learned to be safe. Which is why they were just sitting and visiting on Saturday while other balloonists tossed a football around in the large field near the Jimmy Jones Shelter. This is one of the few pastimes that truly teaches patience said Dan. He and his wife recalled the little daughter of a pilot, who asked if being on the crew was that thing where you sat around waiting all day. Seems like it at times, some crew members said.

"Our pilot," Kelly summarized, "has told us, 'I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air, then in the air, wishing I was on the ground.'"

To see reporter Mark Newman's Twitter feed, go to @couriermark


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