Picking up from last time –
Everyone goes over there and we all start climbing in the balloon. The hot air balloon is divided into 5 compartments. There’s the big one in the middle for the pilot and then two on each side of him. They put up to three people in a compartment, so get prepared to get a little cozy (though we all still had space – it was all good).
We climb into the balloon using little footholds. I don’t know what I expected, a door or something? But nope. There was climbing. (I love climbing. So it was fine by me!)
As we all were standing there, a couple of people were getting a little nervous. (There was a woman on our balloon facing a fear of heights.)
Heck, even I got a tiny bit nervous for a moment. We’re all just standing there in a basket getting ready to go up in the sky! I had that kind of hold-my-breath feeling like I was ready to take off on an amusement park ride or something.
It wasn’t anything like that. We floated up off the ground so very, very slowly. Our pilot tried to keep our speeds to just a few miles an hour and below. He was saying 7 miles an hour would be quit fast for a hot air balloon. So, the point is it’s slooooow.
It’s beautiful, and fun, and cool and awesome. And super slow.
So then we just kind of float around and up and down for, I think, over an hour.
The pilot cracks some jokes and talks to us about flying. (Did you know hot air balloon pilots get licensed through the FAA? It makes sense hearing it now, but it was just something I didn’t really think about.)
My understanding of how the balloon works is that hot air weighs less than cooler air. So, he pilot fires up the propane burners when it’s time to rise. He can also pull a little flap thing to let some of the hot air out if he needs to go down more.
He was telling us how you can’t totally steer the balloon. You can try to understand the direction of the wind at different elevations and use your height to help you get blown to where you need to go… But you don’t really steer.
In fact, when we landed, he threw ropes down to crew members who pulled us along until we were in an open area to land.
And this is where I’ll pick up next time.