was the 11th June, 1967.
Because of the constant burner noise, conversation
was impossible. After 20 minutes of constant heating, we reached 4,500
ft. I climbed onto the edge of the gondola, and could feel the radiant
heat from the burner now beside me.
Checking my canopy, I spotted
Teijin above. Teijin
was made from a red and white striped fabric, however, I could
see it turning silver, which was a puzzle, until realising that I
was seeing the inside of the envelope as it began to rip vertically
and slowly turn inside out.
Wait -A slide show should start.
As I descended, Teijin was coming down even faster. It was mesmerising, hanging there as a spectator unable to help. Thankfully it wasn't long before I saw someone jump and open their canopy. Then another jumped and opened.
The balloon kept deflating and dropping faster. I remember sighing with relief as it missed them both. It was falling ever faster, then as it reached level with me, the top suddenly burst open and the last bubble of air escaped. There was a roar of flapping fabric as it began diving straight down. It appeared to be heading for an isolated farm house, but fortunately landed in a ploughed paddock nearby.
From above, I saw it impact, and three sides of the gondola were flung open like flower petals, then immediately buried as the trailing fabric poured over it. One of the 100lb fuel tanks was dented on a rock, but luckily didn't explode, as I was by then, not that far above it.
It was strange landing there. Not far away on a gentle rise, was this lonely pile of wreckage. Not a soul was in sight. There was a sadness with the fabric flapping gently in the breeze. It was several minutes before any ground crew arrived. Then Don and Stan walked over a rise.
The occupants of
the farmhouse came out briefly, but decided there was more excitement
on TV. We heard that a football game in Canowindra came to a halt
when they spotted Teijin crashing to the ground. The home team lost,
and we were blamed.