Friday, November 17, 2006

Balloon Fiesta Photos

Most photos we see of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta are taken on the ground, from the launch field. Here's a few looking back at the field from the air, as the balloon climbs away. You can click on the pictures for a larger view.

The magic is being up in the air with balloons rising up towards you at every altitude. A good box makes it possible to cycle around the field and enjoy the dramatic view for a couple hours.

My favorite spot is to be about a mile above the ground, a little northeast of the launch field. As the sun rises over the Sandia Mountains you're right where maximum light and color brilliance is reflected back towards you. Hundreds of balloons spread out below and before you, all shining their brightest.

The official balloon fiesta website has more pictures, plus find other balloon festivals and pictures of balloons. The biggest event in ballooning starts the first Saturday in October, and runs for 9 days. Don't miss it, and if you can't bring a balloon, be sure to crew for one.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Describe A Typical Balloon Ride?

A quote from Dave Williams, primary pilot for Hudson Valley Enchanted Balloon Tours in New York on what it's like up there:

Describe a typical balloon ride? It can't be done!

I've tried many times, but have finally given up trying to describe the experience of a hot air balloon ride. That is why there are so many adjectives used in trying to describe a balloon flight: exhilarating, beautiful, amazing, breathtaking, spectacular, etc. Unfortunately, these words come way short, and still don't capture the essence of a hot air balloon ride. As a pilot, I have been up hundreds of times and those words don't work for me and don't begin to describe the wonder of hot air ballooning.. You never get bored or take flying for granted no matter how many times you've been up...

What actually happens during a balloon ride is that the pilot and crew inflate the balloon, the passengers get in the gondola as the pilot brings the balloon to flight temperature. The balloon gently lifts off of the grass, but if your eyes were not open, you would not be aware that you have lifted off of the ground. Many times a passenger will be talking or fiddling with a camera and remark: "Oh, we are off the ground." A balloon ride is not like flying a plane, glider, hang-glider, or skydiving. It is serene and quiet and slow, an experience unlike any other. Fly with us and experience your hot air balloon ride for yourself. --Dave

You can find more on Dave's website, arrange a flight with him, or look over his Why Take Your Balloon Ride With Us page. Or, here are additional options for balloon rides in New York.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

There's nothing else like it.

Pat Muir, a reporter for the Yakima Herald Republic wrote a charming article titled: Hot air balloon ride is a stunner for first-timer after flying at the Great Prosser Balloon Rally.

There's a certain quirky sense of humor, and no shying away from sensational details. The opening and closing sums up the challenge of describing the magic of a balloon flight:
Everyone I ask about riding hot air balloons says the same thing: "There's nothing else like it."

"Whatever," I think.

As if balloonists are privy to something so wonderful it can't even be reasonably compared to anything else.

......So, the reporter takes a balloon ride as part of the event. After all the details of the flight he explains:

I start thinking about what I'll write. I don't really know how to describe ballooning's simultaneous sensations of serenity and excitement. The feeling of floating around in a hot air balloon is unique.

There's nothing else like it.

If you decide to go too, the Great Prosser Balloon Rally is held at the end of September in Washington State. Or try any of these other balloon festivals around the USA or a local balloon ride nearer home. There's nothing else like it.

Also check out what makes balloon flight special.