For the past several years, the Garden of the Gods Amateur Radio Club’s (GGARC) repeater hosted over 20 local and out of state hams in their use of the repeater for hot air ballooning communications. Two to four balloons, their pilots and crews migrate from Albuquerque and Rio Rancho, New Mexico to Colorado Springs to participate in the annual Colorado Springs Labor Day Balloon Festival. The festival hosts over 60 balloons coming in from all over our country.
Pilots and crews use the GGARCs repeater to communicate with each other in “The Chase”. Navigating a myriad of streets in the Colorado Springs and surround area can prove to be difficult for out-of-towners in their quest to safely recover their pilots, passengers and hot air balloons. Three years ago, the “Splash” balloon drifted towards downtown and was unable to find a safe location to land amid the trees and power lines. Running low on fuel, the pilot was able to communicate with the chase crew on the repeater in order to secure and safely land atop the Colorado Springs Police Department.
Our local club members and area hams enjoy hearing other hams and their adventures every Labor Day balloon festival. The Splash pilot (KC5IPK) took GGARC member Ron Goldsberry’s (WB0BLO) granddaughter Courtney on a balloon ride a couple years ago. It’s really comforting to know the GGARCs repeater was there to aid in their communication needs. We hope our club is able to provide this invaluable service to our ham radio ballooning friends for years to come.
Gerry Dunn (NM0Q)