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 V.16 No.40 | October 4 - 10, 2007 
We and the rest of the "Sky Candy" crew helped inflate the balloon. Our primary instructions: Keep the ropes away from the flames!
Christie Chisholm
We and the rest of the "Sky Candy" crew helped inflate the balloon. Our primary instructions: Keep the ropes away from the flames!

Feature

Ballooner

A virtual hot air balloon ride

Last month, my father and I lucked out. A friend of my mother's revealed she and her husband were long-time balloonists and offered to take us up with them for a small fee: wake up at five in the morning and work as part of the crew. My mother has trepidations about heights, and I'm told my younger brother became rather disinterested when roused from bed at that time of morning, and so my father and I were left to rush across town feeling like people who were about to turn into tiny, flying ants. Here's what we saw.

After we inflate, here's what happens.
Christie Chisholm
After we inflate, here's what happens.
Our pilot was amazing and had been flying about as long as I've been alive. The rest of the crew was also especially quick: We were the first to fly away from the herd of other balloonists. Here they are as we're taking off.
Christie Chisholm
Our pilot was amazing and had been flying about as long as I've been alive. The rest of the crew was also especially quick: We were the first to fly away from the herd of other balloonists. Here they are as we're taking off.
Right after taking off, our pilot threw a small rubber chicken at this giant X. I believe this was for a race to see who lifted off the fastest. We obviously won.
Christie Chisholm
Right after taking off, our pilot threw a small rubber chicken at this giant X. I believe this was for a race to see who lifted off the fastest. We obviously won.
The basket was much smaller than I had envisioned, causing most of my pictures to fall within a tight two-foot-by-two-foot range.
Christie Chisholm
The basket was much smaller than I had envisioned, causing most of my pictures to fall within a tight two-foot-by-two-foot range.
I'm usually not up this early.
Christie Chisholm
I'm usually not up this early.
In 10 years, this land will be unrecognizable.
Christie Chisholm
In 10 years, this land will be unrecognizable.
This says we're at 1,300 feet. Then we went higher.
Christie Chisholm
This says we're at 1,300 feet. Then we went higher.
The other balloonists catching up.
Christie Chisholm
The other balloonists catching up.
Pretty.
Christie Chisholm
Pretty.
Fire. (It was much warmer at 1,300 feet in an open-air balloon than I imagined ... wonder why?)
Christie Chisholm
Fire. (It was much warmer at 1,300 feet in an open-air balloon than I imagined ... wonder why?)
The red rope. We were told to go nowhere near this, and we listened, since pulling on it brought us closer to the earth.
Christie Chisholm
The red rope. We were told to go nowhere near this, and we listened, since pulling on it brought us closer to the earth.
About to land ... exactly where our pilot aimed.
Christie Chisholm
About to land ... exactly where our pilot aimed.
Bundling up the balloon safely. It took about half a dozen people.
Christie Chisholm
Bundling up the balloon safely. It took about half a dozen people.
And we rode off into the sunrise in the back of an old Ford pickup truck. (The flag has the same markings as the balloon. The fan is to help open the tent while inflating so the flames can expand the nylon without lighting it on fire.)
Christie Chisholm
And we rode off into the sunrise in the back of an old Ford pickup truck. (The flag has the same markings as the balloon. The fan is to help open the tent while inflating so the flames can expand the nylon without lighting it on fire.)
 
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