‘The first successful human-carrying flight technology’
First ever flight: November 21st 1783
First ever Flyer: Jean-Francois Pilatre Rozier
The first ‘Modern’ ( I’m not entirely sure what that means either, so don’t worry) balloon flight took place in in 1960, Burning, Nebraska. Without a basket Ed Yost flew with only a seat for him to ride in. Since then things greatly improved and the idea of the basket was born. Mainly and almost always now used for tourism Albuquerque, NM is a Ballooning hotspot.
The Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta began in 1972 aa part of a celebration of 770 KOB Radio’s 50th Birthday. It was a small gathering of 13 balloons and a selection of balloonists from all over the US attended the event. Due to Albuquerque’s excellent year round weather and ballooning conditions the event continued and has since been named ‘ The Hot Air ballooning capital of the world. I can only imagine that the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta is where dreams are made. I’ve seen some photos and quite frankly it looks kind of, a little bit, most definitely out of this world. 750 Multicoloured multi-shaped blobs twinkle up into clear blue skies.- I kind of need that in my life.
Needless to say when I had my balloon ‘adventure’ it sadly was not during the Fiesta. Instead it comes from a hazy early morning in April. 5 Balloons left the ground, not quite as majestic, but not a bad effort. The weather was somewhat crisp and I was enjoying seeing peoples reactions as I reeled off balloon crash statistics. ( 775 accidents since 1964 and 70 fatalities- Globally) Everyone was, as you can imagine. Delighted. I had mentioned some of these figures to my mother before I left. Naturally she was convinced that I would die. Well, if you’re going to die, you might as well do so in style.
Initially balloons work by pumping a hella load of air into a flat piece of canvas on the floor, this eventually lifts and looks more like a balloon in an upright position.I vaguely remember waiting in a line of around 6/7 to climb into the balloon.- The logistics of this escapes me. 13 of us clambered in.. which to be honest, I thought was dubious to start off with.
Take off in a balloon is pretty bizarre, in fact- had I not taken a flight over the Grand Canyon a few days prior, a horizontal take off would have been most peculiar. Unlike a helicopter, a balloon is rather bumpy.
Once actually up in the air, it feels almost like you are weightless as you drift through the sky which, as far as you can tell, direction is completely out of your control. we drifted over mainly bare, flat grassland a bit of a river and people having their morning coffee in their backyard. The colours reflected and changed as the sun rose higher in the sky, creating the most incredible shadows beneath us.
How does a ballon land / how did our balloon land.
Balloon’s traditionally do have pretty bumpy landings, this is primarily due to their nature in shape and rapidly changing air speeds. Needless to say we crash landed- Initially aiming to land about 150 yards from where we actually did. We bumped along, hit the the curb on a road and landed on our side in a gated park. To be honest, it was pretty exciting and no one was actually injured.
It took around 30 minutes to get someone to come along and open the gate rescue us and hand out flutes of Champagne- a traditional balloon landing treat dating back to 1783.