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Balloon's-Eye View

Each July 4, the Lexington Sunrise Rotary Club, which holds its weekly meetings in Evans Dining Hall on the Washington and Lee campus, joins forces with BB&T to stage the Fourth of July Balloon Rally. Colorful hot air balloons lift off from the Virginia Military Institute Parade Ground and float lazily (usually) over Rockbridge County. If you’re brave enough, you can purchase a flight on one of the balloons.

That’s what David Michnal, a 2002 graduate of the W&L School of Law, did earlier this week. David was on the sixth and final launch of the weekend, Monday morning at 6 a.m. Happily, he took his camera.

You can see what David saw in the wonderful photograph he took from his balloon — the Colonnade with another of the balloons suspended above the campus.

What’s interesting about the photo is that it was taken during what turned out to be a rather short ride for David and an even shorter ride for other balloonists. The morning was exceptionally still, and the balloons were limited in their range. A story in the Staunton News Leader chronicled the events in a feature story, “The Fickleness of Flight,” reporting that one of the balloons, the “Easy Rider,” wound up landing in front of Lee Chapel, about two blocks from the launch site.

David’s flight was a little longer. He came down in a patch of grass behind the Hampton Inn, which is where he happened to be staying. “Had we only known…” he wrote in a e-mail.

Thanks to David for allowing us to show this view of campus.

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