Susan Overath Woolley
Main Street campus from the air. The just-completed Priscilla
Payne Hurd Academic Complex is in the center, at the top. Reeves
Library, with its blue entrance canopy, is above, at right,
with the Haupert Union Building just above it. Comenius Hall,
faces the sunrise. Between Comenius and the library are Hamilton,
Zinzendorf, Monocacy, and Memorial Halls.
group gathered behind Moravian’s Colonial
Hall in the chilly pre-dawn of October 24. Some had come bearing
the necessary equipment (and talent): Fred Grotenhuis of Balloonatics
and Aeronuts, with a hot-air balloon packed up in a compact bundle
on the back of his SUV, and photographer John Kish, loaded with
cameras. Some had come to help: Charlie Bowden, Josh Zagorski,
Brian Cascioli, and Marc Zimmerman, all of the Class of ’03.
Some had come for the chance of a thrill: a free balloon ride over
Moravian’s Main Street campus.
one had come wondering if she had been crazy to hatch the whole
idea in the first place: that was me.
had all begun with a conversation last summer about the need
for new aerial photographs,
particularly of the Main Street campus,
now that the row of small houses opposite the Haupert Union Building
had been torn down and the magnificent new Priscilla Payne Hurd
Academic Complex had risen on the spot. In September, I had my
first experience of a hot-air balloon flight, and I was enthralled
by the view, the quiet, the way it was possible to turn and take
photographs in any direction, and the way people had come out
of their houses to wave as the balloon passed overhead. I thought, “Why
not do it over Moravian?” My flights of fancy included
skimming Moravian’s rooftops while crowds of students smiled
up and waved enthusiastically.
Grotenhuis, the balloon pilot, was willing. Flying a balloon
over Moravian, however, turned out to be more complicated than
drifting over the New Jersey countryside on a Sunday morning.
Moravian is in the flight path of the Lehigh Valley International
and we had to get permission from the tower, which was readily
given. Also, we knew where we wanted to go: over Moravian.
just let ourselves be blown anywhere the wind cared to take
prevailing wind, according to Fred, was from the west or southwest.
If it stayed there, we could take off from the
of the HUB, drift across campus, and come down in the football
field. This would also take care of another concern: Moravian’s
neighborhood is not the open countryside; we could not land
in the front yard of some neighbor’s house. But that
meant that we couldn’t make our flight in the afternoon,
because the playing fields would be in use. Balloon flights
must take place
just after dawn or just before sunset; it looked as if the
early-bird flight was our only choice.