Posted by: jkirkby8712 | January 7, 2012

Saturday, 7th January 2012 – hot air balloon tragedy in New Zealand.

Last night, instead of my intended appearance on the radio, I spent quite a few hours cooking a late slow cooking roast, and then a few more hours sorting through old photographs, covering my life and activities, mainly through the 1960s. That little exercise brought back a few memories, and lots of names of people I used to work and/or socialise with, and in a number of cases, I found myself wondering where those people were these days, and whether like myself at this time, they ever thought back over past years, and remembered ‘Bill Kirk’. Probably not, and he was never a very ‘memorable’ character, soon forgotten once life moved on!! Oddly enough, most of them haven’t been forgotten by me, and I have retained most letters, photos, documents, etc, over my lifetime. Not sure to what purpose, but it’s a fact, and last night, I found myself giving much thought to some of those people who came into my life at different periods.

I got up this morning, to find the kind of news headline I’ve always dreaded seeing whenever I used to watch the hot air balloons over the city of Melbourne  – from this morning  in New Zealand  –   Eleven people have died when a hot air balloon was engulfed in flames in New Zealand.  The balloon came down in flames at Clareville, near the Wairarapa township of Carterton, about 7.30am local time (0530 AEDT) on Saturday. Local resident David McKinlay said he was watering the garden of his home on the northern boundary of Carterton at 7.40am (0540 AEDT) when he looked up toward the northeast. “I just couldn’t believe what I was seeing,” he said.. “There were flames licking up the basket on one side, up towards the guy ropes of the balloon itself and probably just about reaching the fabric of the balloon,” he told AAP. The balloon came down at speed in a paddock on Somerset Road. Mr McKinlay ran inside to alert emergency services.  “When I got back out I could just see the mass of flame where the actual balloon was on fire. It had completely disintegrated and it was just a long – probably 10 or 15 metres long – trail of flame coming in toward the ground at colossal speed,” he said. Wairarapa District Health Board spokeswoman Jill Stringer told AAP that 11 people died.  First reports were received by police at 7.26am. Police say there have been multiple fatalities but they have not confirmed the number killed. The area is a popular hot air ballooning destination and the annual Balloons Over Wairarapa festival is held there.  New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission has opened an inquiry into the accident.  “It is going to be a terrible thing for Carterton,” Mr McKinlay said

Here in Sunbury, a coolish day, mid 20s, with overcast conditions from time to time threatening rain. But apart from a few splashes here and there, it had not come by evening.  It was about mid-afternoon, when I drove over to Sunbury’s Clark Oval, to watch my son’s cricket match. I arrived  about 20 minutes before the opposition’s innings finished – top team in the D Grade Division, Gisborne, all out for 101 runs.  Adam and his team should have been feeling reasonably confident they could beat that score, so long as the rain stayed away!  Adam took two catches during his fielding time, and then he came in to open the innings for Sunbury. He was in for 3 or 4 overs, but unfortunately, after been hit on the body twice in one over, he was then caught behind, for just 3 runs [I thought he’d scored more than that, but apparently there were a few Byes recorded as well]. Four more of his team mates didn’t fare much better, and with all of a sudden, 5 wickets down for 40+ runs, things were starting to look serious. But then we had a match winning partnership, which got to within 2 runs of victory before it was broken, however, it was only a matter of time before those required runs were scored, and Adam’s team had secured a handy victory against the top team in their grade.

The rest of my Saturday, and evening, was spent quietly at home!  Looking back at my diary on this day, in 2005, it seems to have been one long procession of my picking up, driving, or dropping off, one or other of my children from one part of Sunbury to another [the youngest would have been 16 that year, but at least three of them were still dependant on ‘old Dad’ for a ride to their various venues of activity – work, sport, parties, etc!!  I noticed that I was also on call that night for the YRIPP program –  on call to go the local police station and provide a ‘trained’ adult presence should any unaccompanied minors be there for police interviews. I had trained for that in 2004 mainly, but only received a couple of calls in that time [which I was unable to attend] – I would eventually pull out of the program, as I was not keen on the  ‘on call’ nature of the program, I preferred to have my days, and nights determined in advance as far as possible!








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