Thursday, August 15, 2013

Up, Up, and Away In A Beautiful Hot Air Balloon ...

There’s no sensation quite like a hot air balloon ride.

Manned hot air ballooning has been with us since 1783 and, though you can certainly go higher, faster in a plane, ‘copter, or glider, the silent grace of hot air ballooning remains unequaled by these other methods of conveyance. Even skydiving, which offers its own unique perspectives on flight, cannot compete with the serenity and gentle beauty of hot air ballooning.

Inside the balloon - or envelope - as it fills[/caption]Floating along is only one part of the experience; hot air balloon rides tend to start at dawn as that’s when winds are least prevalent. The balloon - or envelope - is unpacked, stretched out, and then slowly filled with air blown in by a fan. When the envelope is about half filled, the burner is fired up and the balloon is inflated the rest of the way with heated air. Looking into the envelope as it fills is an impressive experience.

Once the balloon is full, the passengers are allowed to board and, after balance is established, the mooring ropes are cast off and up up and away!

The burner giving lift[/caption]As stated above, balloon flight is little like any other kind of flying. For one thing it is nearly silent - wit the exception of the burner’s hiss and occasional flare for lift, there is no sound but you, your companions, and the wide, wonderful world stretching out below you, as far as the eye can see in all directions.

Balloon flights last around an hour and the landings can be a little bumpy as the basket has to be brought in at a 45 degree angle to help create drag - this means you end up lying down! - but not to worry. As with the rest of the experience, landings tend to be gentle affairs and there are plenty of measures in place to make sure no one falls out and everyone has a safe, fun time.

Idaho’s natural beauty offers perfect vistas for hot air ballooning and there are a number of companies out there offering their services - here are just a few:

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