Our city has the privilege of hosting a hot air balloon competition every September. An average balloon system – envelope, gondola, fuel tanks, and 40 gallons of fuel – will weigh about 600 pounds, deflated on the ground. Adding two to three people will increase the weight by another 300-500 pounds. But, once the envelope is filled with hot air…weightless!
This post is in response to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.
The 36th Annual Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Race, our community’s most popular event, occurred last weekend. While we had clear weather, wind conditions only permitted two of the four scheduled flights, three of which are competitive. Both of those flights were characterized by almost no wind, almost cancelling the second flight. Because a church member was sponsoring a balloon, I was able to get up close for some pictures on Saturday morning and then have my first ride on Saturday evening. It was a blast! Here are some of the weekend’s pictures that I think meet this week’s challenge – from the lines (cables connecting the baskets to the envelopes) to the geometric patterns of the envelopes.
Pink Panther Balloon. Flame burst
Coming in for a target -Mike Reinert, pilot
Pink Panther Reflection
Sailing by the Moon – Darcy Hoch, pilot
(l-r) Pilots Hadley and Reick approaching target
Pink Panther – Lines to Pattern
As I mentioned I had my first flight in a balloon! While only about a mile in distance to the target, the winds were minimal, making it about a twenty-minute flight. It was an invigorating experience and a blessing from God. Here are few more photos I took from that afternoon ride.
Up, up and away
Other balloon launching
Approaching the target
Feet on the ground again.
Creston from the air
While all three of my daughters have previously flown, my wife has been apprehensive about me flying because of a deadly hot air balloon accident she saw portrayed in a movie. Additionally, you might have noticed that the balloon sponsor was a funeral home – “that could be like a direct ride to the Pearly Gates.”(ba-dum tshh). However, I went with her blessing. When suggested by one of my daughters that “we need to get Mom up, now,” she responded, “When God gives me wings.”
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
Isaiah 40:31 (NASB)
See more examples of this week’s challenge HERE
In September, our community hosts the annual Southwest Iowa Professional Hot Air Balloon Festival. Weather conditions permitting, balloonists launch at least four times to test their piloting skills. A parade, flea market, YMCA 5K Balloon Chase, night glow and other fun activities surround the event.
Last year, I heard the nearby “whoosh” of the burners filling a balloon envelope with hot air. To my surprise, the competition target to which pilots toss weighted bags from their baskets was placed just a few blocks from my home. That meant that all 50-plus balloons would be close and low! I hurried to find my post and reveled in the multi-colored, sky parade floating effortlessly through my neighborhood.
I took this series of shots of one balloonist’s pass of the target, intentionally getting some shallow and greater depth of field focus shots (the first is my favorite). Here are the results:
Balloon is piloted just above tree level as it approaches target to drop weighted marker.
Balloon ascends from the target.
Street signs are of no value to balloonists.
“Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon”
Thanks to Southern Sea Muse’s Photo Challenge post that jogged my memory of these pictures! Here are a few more close and overhead shots:
Hot Air Balloon Days is September 20 – 22, 2013, Creston, Iowa, USA.