Thursday, August 25, 2011

Hot Air Balloon Rides

What’s the deal?
Go for a ride in a hot air balloon.

Where’s it at?
Of all the ways of flying, no other feels like a hot air balloon. To balloon is to levitate above the ground, drifting silently as if in a dream. With its beginnings in 18th-century France, the endeavour has changed little since. You are still completely at the whims of the wind.

Book a flight with Sundance Balloons, an operator with balloons in 12 cities from Ontario to British Columbia.
Flights launch at sunrise and sunset, but try a sunrise flight because the winds are calmer and your trip is less likely to be cancelled. Meet your crew, who will arrive with a trailer, in the early-morning twilight. First, they’ll unload the wicker basket, which despite its non-aeronautical appearance has proved de rigueur for hundreds of years. Next, the balloon will be unfurled and inflated with giant fans, and finally the gas-powered burner. Clamber in and you’ll soon be hovering 100 metres above a rural landscape, peering down voyeuristically.

The tranquillity is broken only as your pilot pumps the jets, sending flames up to modulate lift, the only control you have. A skilled pilot can read air currents and choose an elevation with a breeze to his liking. After about an hour, you’ll set down in a farmer’s field and the chase vehicle will arrive to pack it all away. Your pilot will offer a champagne toast, a tradition of balloonists, and the experience will feel like it was a dream.

Who’s it for?
Those who are not afraid of heights or landing in a strange farmer’s field. Sundance Balloons offers two flights per day, weather permitting. Prices start at $215 a person.


Another company I have dealt with is Rainbow Balloons, very good. Family Owned. No deposit required.

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