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Hot Air Balloon Flight

July 7, 2006

The flight lifted off from Buck's Airport at the corner of Woodruff Road and Route 49 in Bridgeton, NJ. After liftoff it flew over the Vineland Pike near the Woodruff Church. The balloon the floated toward Bridgeton, over the center of town and south paralleling Fayette Street. After very little movement the balloon drifted toward LiCalzi's Airport where it touched down with the weight of a feather.

As you can see from the picture of the Court House clock and the balloon, the balloon passed over the Court House at 7:20.

The pilot was Dave Gidzinski. Riders are Ron Tisa of Bridgeton, NJ and Linda Cobb.

Departure point: Buck's Airport, Bridgeton

Lift off time: approx 6:45 PM          

Minimum altitude: 0 feet. 

Maximum altitude: 2000 feet

Landing Location: LiCalzi's Airport, Bridgeton, NJ

Landing time: Approx 7:55 PM

Maximum speed:  12 mph using GPS

Minimum: 0 mph.

Reported and photographed by: Bernie Sayers, driver of chase-crew pickup & trailer. Primary radio contact with the balloon.

Jamie and her bother, Bryan, watch as their dad, Ron Tisa, begins the process of setting up the balloon by easing the wicker basket from the trailer.

Believe it or not, the 85,000 cubic foot balloon is inside the red bag.


Dave gives a pre-flight briefing to his passengers, Linda, and Ron. with the beard.

Linda's brother Joe, in the white hat, has flown previously.

The three are cousins. In fact, everyone except Dave and I related.

Dave adjusts some of the lines in preparation for matching the hook and pile of the Velcro which holds the top together.

On landing, Dave pulls a line which separates the Velcro and allows air out of the envelope.

See the deflation picture below of the opened top and hot air pouring out.

Ron is making some last minute adjustments to the Velcro tabs which hold the parachute top.

A line, connected to the center of  the parachute top, runs down inside the envelope to the basket.

Dave can vent hot air by pulling the parachute top.


At the mouth of the balloon, Dave is using a fan to force air into the envelope.

I can hear the throaty roar of the propane-powered burner as I take this picture.

Dave is aiming the hot flame into the center of the envelope which will slowly rise to vertical.

My job is ensure that the balloon doesn't pop up too soon or be blown from side to side in a wind.

The balloon is now inflated with hot air and standing upright.

Dave is making some final adjustments as Ron gets ready to get into the basket.

Watching are Carmella, Linda's mother, and her grandson, Craig.

Dave has snapped the crown line that I was using to hold down the top during inflation.

He is reaching to untie the white line which tied to the balloon and the trailer for safety during the inflation.

The three fuel tanks can be seen in the corners. Dave has an altimeter, a GPS and a radio to talk with the chase vehicle.



Seconds after lift off the balloon begins to move very slowly upward and gently toward the southwest.

Balloons 'work' because of the principle of density differential between the less dense hot air inside the envelope and the cooler air outside the envelope.

The less dense hot air rises and lifts the basket and the riders.

Dave adds hot air as needed to compensate for air in the envelope which has cooled.

Flying a balloon is a delicate balancing act between air too hot which will cause the balloon to ascend or air too cool which will cause the balloon to descend.

I took this picture of the Greenhead about two minutes after liftoff as it sailed across the hangers and fuel truck at Buck's Airport.

The white building is the Woodruff Church.

Even at this early point in the flight, Dave was sure he was headed for downtown Bridgeton.

This unusual picture was taken from somewhere along Irving Avenue as I followed balloon from Burlington Road to South on Pearl Street.
The balloon appears trapped in wires along Pearl Street.

The evening was beautiful and hundreds of people gawked up at the huge balloon passing over downtown.

This picture was taken from the corner of Irving and Pearl facing south.

Cumberland County: "Where the sky is the limit!"

After making a turn southbound onto Fayette Street from 49 and looking back toward the balloon,  I slammed on the pickup's brakes, grabbed my camera and raced to the corner of 49 and Fayette.

I yelled to a confused Jamie as I raced by her,  "I can get a picture of the Court House clock tower and the balloon!"



After passing over the Court House the balloon drifted parallel to Fayette Street and toward the Dutch Neck section.

Dave radioed to me that landing at LiCalzi's Airport assured so the chase crew moved to the airport.

I took this picture of the Greenhead and a second balloon piloted by John Blair which took off ten from Buck's minutes after the Greenhead.

This picture shows the last burn Dave made just seconds before touching down at LiCalzi's.

The orange flame is the from the propane burner. In each corner of the basket there are propane tanks.

The balloonists are about 10 feet off the ground in the picture but the distant trees make them seem much higher.

The ground crew is 'walking' the balloon and basket toward an area where the envelope can collapse on grass rather than cars or airplanes.

George, in the red shirt, is Linda's father. The other man is Joe, her brother.

It is very unusual to take off from an airport in a balloon and to land at an airport although in the last two flights that I crewed for Dave did just that.

Usually, the wind direction and speed forces the pilot to find a large field or parking lot for a landing.

A few years ago, my daughter Rebecca and I flew with Dave and we landed behind the Acme on Main Road in Vineland.

The top has been pulled open, the Velcro separated, and the hot begins to rush out.

Joe holds the top to maximize the opening and speed the deflation process.


Dave lives in Cedarville.

His balloon is called the "Greenhead."

That makes sense.

Jamie, Ron's daughter, hands retainer straps to Linda.

Linda is wrapping the envelope with a 2 foot long Nylon retainer which has Velcro hooks and pile. The retainer holds the huge envelope to make getting it into the bag easier.

Three generations of two families, the Tisa and Morrison families, help put the balloon away.

What was once a light-bulb shaped balloon is now a snake-like mass which will be stuffed into the bag.

Because air doesn't pass through the wall of the envelope all the air is squeezed out through the opening at the top.

Much to the surprise of someone watching for the first time, the balloon really does fit inside that little bag.

The envelope weighs 110 pounds in the bag.

On a cold and dry day, when lift is the best, the balloon could easily lift the weight of three adults.

The customary and somewhat romantic way to end a balloon flight is with a champagne toast.

During the early years of balloon flight in France where ballooning began, French balloonists carried champagne to share with the farmers in whose fields they would land.

The champagne was used as proof that the balloonists were French and not aliens from space.

2006 George Morrison

Cousins Linda and Ron and their family toast after the flight.

Dave, Jamie, Carmella, Linda, Ron, Joe, Bryan, Craig...and me.

Carmella is the sister of Pete Tisa, not shown, who is Ron's father. Pete started the family tradition of ballooning many years ago.

And a great time was had by all!

Bernie Sayers' Personal Page

All photos and copy

2006 Bernard Sayers   except as noted