David has volunteered as ground crew for one of the balloon pilots for several years now. While we were standing around waiting for something photograph-worthy, the volunteer coordinator found David and let him know there was a pilot without a crew. She asked if we were interested in helping out, and of course we said yes. I've never crewed for a balloon before. Why wouldn't I now? I can shoot the balloons another time.
We were introduced to Gary Michalek, a pilot out of Lafayette, California. Gary took us on and gave me some necessary training. I assumed he would just tell me what to do, and since I'm good at following directions, I would do it. Instead, while he was telling me what to do he was also educating me. He spent a lot of time teaching me about the parts and functions of the various equipment. It's more stuff than I can remember now, and it's also more than I had planned on receiving for the day. Had David and I just photographed the event, I never would have learned all this new stuff.
Once Gary was airborne, we became the chase crew, following him around Boise trying to predict where he would land. We ended up landing on a small neighborhood street - and I do mean small. Gary set the balloon down between two rows of two-story houses and trees and cars. It was impressive.
Thank you David for the invitation and thank you Gary for allowing me to be your crew for a day.
Gary launched right next to, and at the same time, as one of his pilot friends.
Apparently Gary is a great pilot - he was able to fly right over the train depot for a photo op.
Because the winds were low, he was able to fly the balloon low. Here he is looking for a spot to land.
But landing in this area was NOT an option.
One other exciting event for the day - I got to photograph my first hummingbird. Ruby throated hummingbirds can be difficult to capture, but I'm pretty happy with how these images turned out.
I even got a closeup of his wing. That's not something very many photographers can do. ;)
If you want to see a few more images, you can find them here: