Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta 2008
Sussex NB, September 5, 2008

You don't just jump in and take off. You have to help assemble the darn thing.

This is the basket. We had to lug it out of the trailer (it's heavy).

The balloon is still in the trailer. That's our pilot scratching his head (???). Kenny Shumate, from Orlando, Florida.

Drag it out of the trailer.

The truck and trailer drive away and the balloon is pulled out of it's storage bag.

It takes up a lot of space on the field.

Air is forced into the balloon using two of these fans

Then the gas jets are turned on.

As the hot air rises inside the balloon, it causes it to stand erect.

And away we go, aloft in "Easy Rider". Up, up and away............... The basket is about 4 feet by 6 feet and there's 7 of us in it.

The "chase vehicle" will follow us along from the ground and be there when we land to collect the balloon and basket (us too).

Starting to drift away. The only way the balloon can be steered is by going up higher or coming down lower to use the air currents at that particular level.

The pilot will look for signs, such as smoke coming from a chimney below, tree tops swaying in the wind or whatever. A useful tool is a can of spray shaving foam. Just squeeze out a few dollops and watch which way the air currents take them. Or, if you are Kenny, simply work up a good load of foamy spit, launch it over the side and watch it descend (bonus points if it beans someone on the ground).

The occasional shot of heat from the jets causes us to gain altitude. We went up to the 900 foot level. Kenny has been up to 7,000 feet, but not with rookies aboard.

An item has been ticked off Gail's Bucket List.

A long way from my 5-point crawl across the Knife Edge a few years back.

It's so quite up there (except for when Kenny turns the jets on). We were able to carry on a (loud) conversation with the people in the other balloons.

There were 29 balloons in the air.

Note the white rectangle near the bottom right. A farmer will put a white sheet in his field if it's OK to land there. A red sheet means it's not OK.

Scared the daylights out of these cows. They had no clue as to what was going on since, apparently, cows don't have the ability (interest?) to look up.

Landed safely in a field, amazingly within about 100 feet of where Kenny said he'd put it down.

We are put to work again.

It has to be folded up and put back inside the trailer, along with the basket.

We were up for approximately 40 minutes and drifted somewhere between 5 and 10 kilometres.

It's a tradition to sip champagne at the end of a safe landing. It was only now, after we landed, that we found out (from the sign on the trailer door) that Kenny calls himself "The Balloonatic".