Fire in the Hole by Linda
Last summer, we took a hot air balloon ride while visiting in Charlottesville, Virginia. We arranged for a sunrise launch, and were involved in setting up the canopy and the basket with Scott and Kelly from Bonaire Charters.
As ephemeral a thing as a hot air balloon might seem, there is a lot of technology that goes into getting it off the ground. There are hundreds of yards of rip-stop nylon all tied together with yards and yards of dacron rope used for control. There is a huge burner with tanks, regulators and controls to keep the air in the canopy warmer than the ambient temps. There is the biggest wicker basket I’ve seen outside of that Indiana Jones movie, and there are radios for keeping contact with the chase vehicle and the other flyers. Oh, and let’s not forget the double-dooley pickup truck with the lift gate that gets it all to the launch point and packs it up at the end.
The canopy is pre-inflated with a large fan until it is about this size and shape. Then the fire is turned on, the air heats up and the whole apparatus rights itself and strains to leave the ground. That’s Linda kneeling to the left of the fan and that double-dooley to give some sense of scale
Balloon Reflection byLinda
At the end of the ride, we are demoted (promoted?) from passengers to crew and help them deflate and pack the canopy and other equipment. Although we had landed, it took a good while before we had our feet back on the ground.