“… it is easier to overcome people’s judgments than to overcome our own self-judgment…”
Arianna Huffington

The Element

Hotair Ballooning


Iulia and I joined her sister (and a couple of her friends) to visit a hot-air balloon festival which takes place regularly this year not too far from us (~2 hour drive). Fortunately (because we did not register in advance and because morning flights were cancelled due to climate conditions) we were able to get places on a balloon.

A couple of test balloons (party sized, not people sized) were released by the event organizer and it was decided that we could not take off from the festival grounds because winds would have carries us into forest areas where there is no place to land … so we got into cars and drove out ~8km … where we stopped in a field, and another test balloon was launched … and it was decided that this location wasn’t good either … we drove back a bit to  another location … apparently this a routines part of hot-air ballooning.


In the next field the 3 balloon teams started unpacking20160923_175139


and doing some  navigation planning





then out came fans which started to blow air into the balloons20160923_180509

I was too preoccupied taking pictures to help but Iulia wasn’t …





Finally, when there was enough air in it was time to activate those powerful burners


… and pretty soon the balloon was upright and we were inside it


… one balloon took of before us 20160923_181922

… then another balloon took of 20160923_182027

… and finally we were going up



… and the ground quickly started moving away


and we got a whole new perspective of the area we were in20160923_182637

We were a group of 3 balloons in radio contact. If I understood correctly navigating a balloon is done by changing altitude. Wind strength and direction is different at different altitudes. In choosing the balloon’s altitude the captain is actually choosing what winds will be carrying the balloon. Sometimes we were up and and sometimes down. Sometimes we couldn’t easily tell if a neighboring balloon was coming down or we were going up



The flight was short 20-30 minutes … a small tree (behind the balloon in the picture below) got in the way or our landing … and the spot we were in wasn’t really accessible by car … so when the driver finally arrived (found us) the team started moving the balloon down the hill … the captain was gently adding heat and the other two were dragging the balloon towards the car …





until the two were oneo again and the balloon started coming down20160923_185800


… and if like we were, you too are wondering how that thing is deflated … you can gradually folded it from the basket end … but our team had what looked like a massive twisted exhaust pipe which did the trick … though is not as easy to use as one would think it is … looked like tough work20160923_190712



and then the balloon was repacked … and that was ALMOST the end of that 20160923_191126

because the team that was flying Iulia’s sister had an even less fortunate landing that involved an oak tree that wouldn’t give … and way up the hill where their car couldnt’ reach either … so it had to be started up again and as with our balloon had to be carried a much longer way down the hill where it too was folded and packed … here it is being fired up again20160923_193308

so we arrived back at the festival grounds late and hungry … but with a sweet experience of flying in a hot-air balloon 🙂

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