Balloon Lands on Campus, Hundreds of Scholars Get a Lift

October 19, 2017



By Faustina Crum

A crowd of scholars quickly formed on the empty lot on the west side of campus last Thursday morning after an impromptu landing of hot-air balloon. The small mass rapidly turned into a sea of students after word got around that a balloon had landed on campus. Hundreds of eyes were on a single balloon, The Glorious Drifter.

The commercial pilot, Tim Cloyd, allowed students to climb aboard the aircraft and rise a few feet above the ground. The balloon held a capacity of six passengers, allowing five students to ride at a time. After one group was finished, Cloyd would safely land and allow one student to get out of the balloon while another got in to keep the weight balanced.

Although the process seemed difficult and time consuming, the crew knew what they were doing. Crew member Lacas Eric Stephens said they have done this on several occasions, but usually with a smaller group of people. “We did this once in a cul de sac where there were houses wrapped around a street. We tethered the drop line in the middle of the street so we would be able to take them up. The winds were so calm we were able to take up all the neighborhood kids and adults.”

The balloon crew is from Runnells, Iowa, and comes every year to New Mexico for The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. Stephens said he began travelling to this event as a teenager. He became a crew member at the age of 14 for the balloon “Purple People Eater.” It was at that time he realized he couldn’t  get enough of ballooning and later joined other crews.

Cloyd has been flying for 11 years and has flown for over 850 hours. He began hot-air ballooning as a crew member. He later became a pilot with his son, Patrick Cloyd, after he had a balloon personally made. The balloon was designed around the bible verse “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” John 3:16. “The cross on the front of the balloon represents this verse and the passion of Jesus, so that when we drifting in the wind we are not just sailing aimlessly, but gloriously,” Cloyd said.

Cloyd and his crew were more than happy to let scholars experience the thrill of riding the balloon, even if it was only for a moment. The scholars eagerly waited for their turns to arrive. Some were scared, others were excited. “The wait was worth it,” said one middle school scholar as they were leaving the balloon basket, “That was awesome!”



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