It took a hangover and three attempts but we finally got to fly in Moree. Spurred on by our weekend in the Hunter Valley and the barrage of social media posts from everyone flying in Canowindra for the last week, we were determined to start flying in our new home. Looking at the weather on Friday night we saw no reason why, with light easterly winds predicted, we shouldn’t be able to get three flights in. One each morning and one on Saturday afternoon. We even had a launch field organized.
But nothing is ever easy.
Gretta’s boss Belinda and her husband Col live on their hobby farm by the Mehi river near Pallamallawa, and they had invited us to take off from their 100-acre paddock. We weren’t about to turn that offer down so come Saturday morning we drove the 20 minutes to Pally. Where it was windy. We couldn’t believe it and nor could Belinda and Col. It was only blowing 10 knots on an otherwise perfect morning so they thought we were having them on. After explaining the finer points of ballooning their neighbours turned up and we went through it all again. I was still 100% confident of an afternoon flight so we adjourned for breakfast and decided to reconvene later in the day.
Word had traveled in the interim so by the time we arrived in our corner of the paddock that afternoon we had a small crowd to watch the pi-ball with us. While Gretta and I were ultimately disappointed with the outcome of the day, our audience wasn’t. Timing is everything and we timed our inflation to coincide with a gust of wind. There was plenty of rolling around as we tabbed in the crown and at one point the envelope was 90˚ to the basket. Gretta got it to stand up and then bounced around on the end of the tether rope as false lift worked its magic. Gretta called for hands on and then faced the crowd.
‘Who’s coming?’ she yelled out to them. I saw some shuffle back a step while others grabbed their children protectively; lest they be carried away be the maniac woman.
We should have stuck it out and waited like more experienced afternoon flyers would have done. Instead we pulled down and packed it up. Of course, after 10 minutes the wind had eased and we could have had a perfect flight. But we’d started drinking and anyway, the locals were thrilled with what they had seen. We retired to the house and I got to work on my first, flying-in-Moree related hangover.
We turned out again on Sunday morning with Belinda and Col and gave it one last go. This time, finally, it all came together. After 90 minutes and a gyro-copter fly past, Gretta and Belinda landed in the backyard of rent-a-crowd from the night before.
It wasn’t the 3 flights we wanted, but it marks the start of big sky flying season.