Whether up early or late, Balloon Classic’s dawn patrol a sight

The star pattern on this balloon seems appropriate for the dawn patrol.

“Morning” is “the early part of the day: the time from sunrise to noon” or “the part of the day between midnight and noon,” according to Merriam-Webster.

So I am technically a morning person. I’m very fond of 10 a.m. to noon as well as midnight to 2 a.m., 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. — those are the real morning hours!

So while many morning people are enjoying the early morning hours, beginning their day at maybe 6 a.m., I may also enjoy a similar number of morning hours but in more of a split-shift, quirky, morning-person sort of way.

Much to my early-rising farming parents’ dismay, I was not an early morning riser so much as an early morning stay-upper.

Since college, if it’s important for me to be somewhere at 7 a.m. or before — a flight, a final exam, a work presentation, an important appointment — then I’m probably going to stay up all night. It’s just easier. And the chance of my arriving on time is exponentially greater than if I to bed and set multiple alarms.

So for the National Balloon Classic’s 5:15 a.m. dawn patrol, it’s a given I’m just going to stay up all night — so that’s what I did Friday, August 5 to Saturday, August 6.

My reward was seeing five balloons inflate and sail into the darkness at an hour of the day rarely known to me — 5:15 a.m.

A member of one of the balloon crews even struck up a conversation with me — crazy person! While I may stay up all night, I most certainly don’t want to be chatting with another mammal. That interferes with the beautiful quietness of the hour.

Since the pilots are not allowed to land in the dark, they had a bit of a ride ahead of them until the sunrise allowed them to see the rich Iowa soil below and make a safe landing at unknown locations south of Indianola’s balloon field.

“How do they turn around?,” I heard a young girl ask her adult companion. I didn’t wait to hear his reply.

I heard another person say, “I’m sure they have a designated field south of here where they all will land.”

Hmmm. Right. I don’t think the winds of central Iowa are that accommodating. More like lots of landowner pre-approved landing spots available to pilots, acknowledging in advance the fickleness of Mother Nature and the lack of a useful steering wheel in a gondola.

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