Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Simply Summer - Up Close At A Balloon Launch

Perhaps you've seen them go "up and away!"  You may have seen hot air balloons in the sky, and maybe you've even taken a ride in one of them.  If you are truly fortunate, you've been to a hot air balloon festival.

But how close have you ever gotten to one during the launch process?

At this weekend's Spiedie Fest and Balloon Rally, in Binghamton, New York, you could get close to the balloons, and watch the entire process from the time the trailer is unloaded, until the balloon is up in the air.  This is a Spiedie Fest tradition, the closeness to the process, and one that we cherish, no matter how big the Spiedie Fest has gotten from its start some 29 years ago.

It's amazing how quickly they can set up and launch.  They are used to last minute decisions, as a launch on an otherwise sunny day can be ruined by wind.

First come the trailers that carry the balloons. I love the advertising on the side and back.
Then, they unload the basket.
The team installs the burner unit.

Meanwhile, out comes the bag with the envelope.
This is "the envelope", stretched out on the ground.

The inflation process doesn't take long at all. (Not shown, the fan used in the process.)   At this point, you are running from one place to another, as balloon crews shoo spectators to a safe distance.  The excitement consumes the spectators, who are busy taking pictures, but the team has a job to do.
As the envelope inflates, team members hold it by attached straps.
Upright and only moments from launch, as the pilot and others enter the basket.
Right at the moment of launch.

And finally, up in the air with the glow and fire of the burner visible.

Watching balloons launch - what a way to spend a beautiful summer late afternoon.  The Spiedie Fest is well worth your trip next August to the Binghamton, New York area.  Remember this:  first Friday, Saturday, and Sunday in August.

Have you ever been to a hot air balloon festival?

16 comments:

  1. Very cool that you captured all that! I've been to the Albuquerque, NM International Balloon Festival - it was years ago, but seeing your pictures brought back great memories of getting out to the field at 5:30 AM with a class of 5th graders. Watching 50 or so balloons fill up and launch in waves was breathtaking.

    Peggy (from UBC)
    ***
    Peggy Nolan
    http://thestepmomstoolbox.com

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    1. I have wanted, for a long time, to go to the Albuqerque festival. And I even have a cousin-in-law there! But it never seems to happen. I'm glad you had the opportunity - sounds like it was an unforgettable experience.

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  2. I've never been up close at a balloon launch, so this is just fun to see! Great photos! Did you get to take a ride?

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    1. No ride. Balloon rides around here are well over $100 a person and, by the time they decided to hold the launch (wind delayed it) we wouldn't have been up that long. Plus, I am leery after a well-publicized accident that occurred over 15 years ago (rough landing, one person ejected and killed, others injured).

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  3. Oh I remember going to a festival in Germany years ago. I loved reading your blog as it reminded me of that day. It was amazing to watch them inflate. They go from so ackward on the ground to so graceful and light in the air. We have several balloonists in our area and they are wonderful to watch.

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    1. I'm glad to know that these lovely balloons are popular all over the world.

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  4. Many years ago, when we homeschooled our 5 kids we went to a hot air balloon launch. I don't know if it was actually a festival but it was sooooooo cool! It was so amazing to watch each of these steps that you described that you have pictures of! So fun!

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  5. Those are some lovely photos and it is really interesting to see the process behind launching these. After reading what you wrote about the accident, I don't know that I would ever feel safe going up in a hot air balloon, which is too bad because it looks so peaceful and lovely.

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    1. I know a number of people who have gone up in them (safely) and had great experiences. I guess it's up to each of us to access the risk. Maybe one day I'll decide the risk (as I perceive it) is more than worth the experience.

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  6. I love watching hot air balloons. I used to live very close to a popular launching pad. One time during a festival, one of the balloons had to make an emergency landing right in front of my house. It was an amazing experience!

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    1. I'm sure it was. Years ago, one passed right over our house but our lot is so small, I doubt it could have landed even if it had to!

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  7. Wow! We get a lot of balloons going over our house and on one morning they got somewhat lower than they intended and we could see their faces and hear their panicked conversation as they pulled up!

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    1. Now, that must have been close! Glad they were able to pull up again.

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  8. The baloons look fantastic. I've never taken a ride in one, but I can imagine how it feels. I've described it in my novels when my heroine takes flight in a vision. She hovers above the scene before she dives down to participate. ;-)

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    1. I suppose the ability to fly has always been the dream of many humans. Except, maybe, those of us who are afraid of heights.

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