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Friday, May 6, 2016

Pilot's 'Going the Distance'

Wednesday, February 21, 2001

Pilot takes 'Long Jump Challenge' to fly non-stop from SL to Indiana.

Indiana balloonist Dave Bobel chose Storm Lake as his starting point for a balloon "long jump"attempt Saturday - where a balloonist goes up with a limited amount of fuel and goes as far as possible.

"Going up I can only carry about 40 gallons of fuel," Bobel said while filling his tanks on the frigid Saturday morning.

Bobel was taking the Balloon Federation of America (BFA) Long Jump Challenge. The BFA offers the challenge from October to April of every year. During the winter months, a balloon uses less fuel, which allows for some impressive distances.

"It was kind of spur of the moment, an adventure," Bobel said.

Bobel, who is from Peru, Ind., and his partner Allen Baird left Indiana around 1 p.m. Friday afternoon. They didn't know exactly where they were going other than west.

"When we left Indiana we had no idea where we were going to go other than a general direction," Bobel said. "We knew we were going somewhere around here."

Baird made phone calls with a meteorologist who suggested Spencer or Storm Lake would be the best starting point. They decided on Storm Lake. Bobel had a book along listing balloon pilots from across the country and contacted local pilot Mike Reinert. "He said, 'I'll get you a crew,'" Bobel said.

Read the rest of this article in the 2/20 Pilot Tribune.

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