Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Hot Air Ballon Adventure

In mid-July we went to the Boars' Head Inn in Charlottesville, Virginia with our grand-nephew Alex and my sister-in-law Linda to go hot air ballooning. The rendezvous time was 6:00 a.m., and it was just beginning to get light. The balloon pilot, Mr. Behr has been offering trips from the Boar's Head Inn since 1980. The first thing he did was inflate a 10 inch helium balloon and let it go, watching carefully to see how it rose above the trees, noting that it was moving toward the north. Since a balloon flight always moves with the wind, Mr. Behr states that he has spent the last 30 years of his career not having any idea where he is going!

    Determining that the light breeze and the weather report were both good, he instructed us to walk with him just a short distance to an open area, where he and his assistant unloaded the huge bundle that contained the balloon, and the large basket that all ten passengers would ride in.  The balloon was stretched out and attached to the tipped-over basket, and a gasoline-driven high-speed fan was used to blow cold air into the balloon opening to begin the inflation. Once there was adequate space the double propane burners at the top end of the basket frame were turned on, quickly filling the balloon.
     We all scrambled in, and seconds later we drifted slowly into the air accompanied by the loud roar of the propane burners. A few short blasts, and all of a sudden it was totally quiet as we floated across a small lake near the Inn, over a road and an affluent neighborhood out toward wooded countryside.
     The sun was low on the eastern horizon as we sailed along. There was very little sensation of movement. Since the air all around the balloon was moving at the same slow speed as the balloon itself, it felt more as if the balloon was stationary and the ground was somehow scrolling past beneath us.
     Do you think you'd like to do this too? Investigate here:

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