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Ballooning stories
Spring 2003      

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The Balloonist’s Prayer

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Ballooning stories

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Hot Air Ballooning

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Mysterious Math

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Romancing the Wind

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That pasture?

Dana's balloon, Too Cool
Dana England Conklin will never forget the enormity of the experience the first time she attended the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Her words of amazement became her balloon's name: Too Cool.

The apparent lack of a gate once was the least of Dana England Conklin's concerns when she was crewing for her husband. After the third neighbor asked incredulously, "You want in that pasture?” Conklin knew its containment of three rodeo bulls was no hoax.

As Conklin quickly radioed her pilot husband, the question crossed her mind: "Can bulls distinguish between a hot pink balloon and a red rodeo flag?” She finally located the gate, and they packed up in less than the usual 15 to 20 minutes — seeing neither hide nor hair of the bulls until their next flyover.



The power of Chuck E. Cheese's

  Sandy Graf’s balloon, Up or Down

The crew of Sandy Graf's balloon, Up or Down, have many good stories to tell. Nicknames like Scorch are part of the fun, says Graf, who earned the moniker from fellow balloonists after radiant heat from her burners caused a small grass fire.


Sandy Graf's two daughters have grown up thinking a hot air balloon in the family is as common as a pizza spokesmouse is in others. When the younger daughter turned 3, her party consisted of a balloon glow and tethered rides. With the balloon lit up like a birthday cake, the little girl piped up, "This is really cool, but can I go to Chuck E. Cheese's?”

"My daughters have an opportunity others don't have, but they don't always realize it,” explains Graf.




Who's on first base?

Jill's balloon, Jubilee
Jill Johnson Shafer enjoys piloting her balloon, Jubilee, and riding as a passenger. If she's maneuvering the balloon, she focuses on getting on and off the ground. As a passenger, however, she waves at and carries on conversations with curious people below.

In 1993, Jill Johnson Shafer flew in a rally in Killeen and ended up flying onto Fort Hood. She landed just short of the no-fly zone next to the firing range, surprising the soldiers.

"Can you believe it?” the guys exclaimed. "There are two women flying that thing!”

"If I had known that flying into Fort Hood would attract so many men, I would have done it a whole lot sooner,” Shafer quips. "However, my soon-to-be husband nixed the idea of starting over.”







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