Oldies and Oddities: Buying the Farmhouse

Adventures in Navy ballooning.

A less-than-dignified descent and landing. (David Hazen)
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All this time, gas was escaping from the valve. (We later discovered that the “wishbone” on the butterfly valve, the device that pulled the valve closed, had broken.) We reached the apex of our rise. Down we started, again.

We were dropping sandbags as fast as we could get them over the side. We returned to earth a quarter of a mile farther on. Our unintended target this time was a small farmhouse.

We hit the TV antenna, knocking it off the house, then were nearly impaled on a telephone pole. The balloon crashed down, the basket hanging from the phone wires six feet off the ground. I pulled the ripcord, deflating the ship onto the pole and wires. The only flight casualty: abrasions to our missing passenger, whom we met when we backtracked to our first point of touchdown to retrieve our hats.

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