Friday, May 23, 2014

let’s not get carried away

Think the French are full of hot air?

You may be right.

The first untethered balloon flight with human passengers was by Frenchmen in Paris, on November 21, 1783.

Since then hot air ballooning has really taken off. Sorry.

This one is owned by BlueDragon, 
in Montgomery County Pennsylvania.

The wicker basket, rigging and propane burner are recycled from his last balloon, but this “envelope” is brand new. 

$23,000. Made in Czech Republic. 

This is just its second flight of perhaps 1000 before the fabric becomes fatigued and frayed. The “crownline” is the rope to the left, used to control the top during stand up.

The white “drop line” anchors the basket to the bumper of the van.

And the red, asymmetrical “scoop” to the left of the flame is like a sail, ensuring the balloon glides off to the left.

Balloons tend to fly early or late in the day so natural cool air contrasts more sharply with the heated air inside,
 enhancing lift.

A fully loaded basket with pilot, passengers, burner, propane tanks and safety equipment can weigh as much as a small car.

Regular shots of heat maintain lift but balloonists are careful not to overheat and have no way to control the climb.

There is no steering either, so a chase vehicle must follow. 
And a traditional bottle of champagne always lives on board for a (potentially) irate landowner on whose property the balloon sets down.

No sound. Spooky.

Only the intermittent roar of the propane burner punctured total silence.

Sorry about that word punctured, too.

Have a great holiday weekend!

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