We were supposed to get some hands on experience yesterday with some balloons that were to launch from a school nearby, but a fierce wind kept everything grounded, so we were going into this experience cold. Really. Cold. And dark. We’d been told that we needed to be on the grid for our balloon by 5:30, so we were there. Our balloon was not.
The only light was from a hopeful vendor selling glow sticks.
About a dozen balloons were starting to get pumped up, even though it was still pretty dark. They are the dawn patrol, the ones who venture up to really see which way the wind is blowing and how fast the balloons will be moving.
It was just starting to get light behind the mountains to the east of the city.
As the sun came up, it started lighting up the balloons in the sky, even though we were still in shadow.
Our guys finally arrived and were appalled that we had been out there so long. We didn’t need to be there until 6:30 at the very earliest. Hurray! An extra hour of sleep tomorrow. They unloaded the van and showed us how to help get the balloons spread out. Our team is flying what is called “shapes” and they represent the NY fire department with a fireman and a hydrant. I told them they need a dalmation next.
We unrolled 400 pounds of ripstop nylon out of the bag it was wadded up in and tried to get it as flat as we could while the pilot, Tod, and his team started blowing air into it.
First Responder and the Fire Hydrant
The balloons were finally flamed and standing up. Gerry got to go for a very short ride, hanging on to the edge of the basket as it skittered across the ground, thereby violating one of the rules in our instruction booklets: Don’t go for a ride outside the basket. Because the wind was a bit stronger than Tod was happy about, and it was heading east into the city instead of the normal westerly direction, he just put the balloons up and left them tied to the truck so they wouldn’t go anywhere. He says they are squirrely under the best conditions and downright scary in a brisk wind.
A lot of the traditional round balloons ventured up into the sky, but the pilots of the special shapes all seemed to agree with Tod, so very few of them left the ground.
The variety of balloons is just astounding.
Everywhere you look, there are amazing things to see.
Seriously, the pictures don’t begin to do the visual experience justice!