Up, up and away again

Published 7:06 am Wednesday, June 17, 2009

By By MaryClaire Foster
Last week it was a helicopter, and this week to continue my in-air adventures, a blimp.
Sunday morning I had the pleasure of climbing into the Poarch Band of Creek Indian’s newest purchase, a 178 -ft long blimp, along with three other passengers and the captain.
As you know, Sunday was a typical scorching-hot, humid day in Atmore and after hearing the ride was a similar experience to being on a boat, I got a little nervous.
Ok, really, I was nervous the whole time, who doesn’t hear blimp and think the Hindenburg disaster, but then with the heat and bobbing up and down, I just knew I was going to get sick.
I was both lucky and unlucky enough to secure the seat next to the captain for the ride. Lucky obviously because the front seat is always a prime spot, but not so lucky because the only ventilation in the blimp is an open window that my seat was just in front of, and as a result, I had no air blowing on me.
Fortunately my queasiness subsided as I took a cue from the animal world and as gracefully as I could stuck my head out the window to catch the breeze. My newfound A.C. and the sheer excitement of the new experience quickly dissipated my queasiness and for the second time in a week I was able to enjoy the view of Atmore from up above.
The blimp ride was very smooth, but did mimic a boat on the water with its occasional bobbing up and down. At one especially big bob down, I threw all semblance of maturity and professionalism out the window behind me and closed my eyes and put my clenched my fists.
This made the pilot, Carl Harbruck, chuckle and then to my horror say, “If you thought that was bad…” and promptly cut off the engines.
Dead silence in any aircraft is not a comforting noise, but after realizing we had not quite started the descent to our deaths, I was able to appreciate the experience.
The captain’s reminder that we were after all being held up by a giant balloon and not just the engine also helped to calm my nerves.
Overall, I enjoyed my first and probably last blimp ride, but as a recommendation to those of you trying to catch a ride, sit next to the window and have something in your stomach before you go up.
I guess that was the last of my adventures in the air for a while, although I did hear something about a hot air balloon festival in Foley this weekend. I think I’ll stay grounded though.
MaryClaire Foster is news editor for the Atmore Advance. She can be reached at (251) 368-2123 or via email at lifestyles@atmoreadvance.com

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