There were groans when we were awakened at 2:00 a.m. to be driven to our balloon ride grounds. The balloon experience is and optional tour and three of us, me, Owen and Gina were the only takers. It was cold and chilly when we arrived to see balloons and crews working all over a huge field staging area.
What a thrill when a balloon is suddenly aloft and lighting up the sky and ready to fly. Beautiful.
We are directed to our balloon and the crew is working hard to get it upright.
Our faces are reddened by the flames. A crewman offers to take our picture. Now we are glad we got up early. We are the first ones to load. The other 21 passengers are nowhere to be seen.
Balloons all around us are coming to life.
We are airborne and flying before the sun comes up.
A beautiful sunrise.
In the distance, the sun plays across the highest ridges first. What a magnificent way to watch a sunrise. You can click once than again to make the photos bigger for a better view if you like. Then back arrow to return to the blog.
This balloon gets close enough to “kiss” which means we bumped together, a fairly common event when 70 to 90 balloons launch in close proximity.
We fly over a deep tufa canyon. The white tufa is a volcanic rock that makes quite beautiful formations.
It is a strange feeling to be practically above another flyer.
The colors and beautiful background delight the senses.
…Gina are both enjoying their first balloon flight. It is a drifting, serene experience.
At some point, as we gaze at the rough terrain, the “fairy Chimneys” we kind of wonder about the landing? I’ve flown before, but only over fields and vineyards or savannah.
The area has rose-colored rocks and is called the rose garden.
Some of the tufa shows colorful streaks as well. Something you cannot see from the ground.
We know that we will hike this area later in the day with our group.
We watch as SkyWay is making for a landing area where one balloon is already on the ground, ready to be rolled up and put back on the truck.
Half deflated, the balloon lands right on the chase trailer. I’ve never seen it done that way before this flight. These are giant baskets. We were given instructions on how to brace for a hard ground landing which has been my past experience in the three balloon rides I’ve taken where everyone is in one simple basket holding about 6 people plus one or two crew members.
Everyone bails out and down she goes.
We spot our ground crew.
The pilot throws them a line and they drag us into position.
Our pilot keeps the balloon slightly inflated while we bail out. No other crew member on this flight.
We watch our balloon collapse and congratulate the pilot on our soft, perfect landing.
We celebrate and enjoy cookies and champagne and salute our successful flight. Everyone is taking pictures. We are presented with a flight certificate and then bused back to the hotel. Wonderful. I’d have to say, each flight is different and unique. Very enjoyable.