Sunday, March 30, 2014

Up, Up and Away!

I've taken a lot of photos of the various hot air balloons that drift by my home, this past week I finally had the chance to go up in one.

It was a fine day for sailing. We made arrangements to go up with Southern Arizona Balloon Excursions and they gave us a fine ride.
There were two other balloons heading skyward just ahead of us from our launching site in Avra Valley, AZ. You can see in this shot that they are nearly ready to takeoff while the crew was just getting our balloon, at lower right, ready for hot air.
It was a beautiful Arizona morning. The vivid colors of the balloons stood out against crisp blue sky intermixed with white cirrus clouds. 
It was great fun to be up close and personal photographing the first two balloons as they headed skyward and our balloon was prepped to follow.

Finally, our turn was nearing.

 Here is the view from in the basket, looking into the heart of the balloon:
Eventually, we were airborne:
I can see my car from here:
and a whole lot more:
even the Moon:
Near the top of this image is the Avra Valley solar farm:
All to soon, it was time to come back down to Earth. Flying in the balloon was a gentle and peaceful as can be. In landing you are at the whim of the winds and the skill of the pilot. Our pilot took us down into a flat area of desert away from major obstacles. The bottom of our basket passed through a low mesquite tree and bounced, sliding a bit as we came to a stop. Here is the skid mark we left on the desert floor:
The flight crew had been chasing us and, once everyone was safely out, quickly began deflating the balloon and folding it up for its next trip.
 It was a wonderful trip and I someday I plan to do it again.

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