Tuesday, October 1, 2013

US Hot Air Balloon Team

We had the amazing and unique opportunity to fly with the US Hot Air Balloon Team.



I was mostly excited and just a little nervous to fly. What if we fell? What if it was windy?  How do you get into a hot air balloon?

Safety is the number one concern of the team, if it is NOT safe to fly, they won't. They will reschedule, over and over, until it is safe for you to fly.  They monitor wind speeds, air pressure, etc. before you fly and even during your flight from the balloon.

I can tell you this is truly an experience like no other. We will not soon forget our mile high journey above the Earth.

It was an awe inspiring journey. I cannot believe my daughter and I floated a mile above the Earth!

Our ride started at the Pottstown Municipal Airport. (Flights take off from there as well as St Peter's in Berks County, Holicong and Bird-In-Hand, PA).  



Flights cost $299.00 (USD). It is worth every penny. This is one of those bucket list items, you need to do, as soon as you can. I'm going again, as soon as I can!

We met our pilot, Russ. He has been flying balloons for seven years and flew Cessna airplanes  for several years prior. He was friendly, knowledgeable and very, very funny. He put us nervous adults at ease and made a point to include and engage Princess. He released shaving cream, just for her to see what it does in the atmosphere. It was very cool!

We watched them fill the balloon, first with cool air, with an industrial fan. Then, to raise the balloon off it's side, they used the propane burners.



The balloon is much larger in person, than it looks from the air. We've actually seen this particular balloon fly over our house several times.








This balloon carried four to six people. It did not require the customary sandbags, because it uses propane and not helium, which is lighter than oxygen. The balloon carried six, one hundred pound tanks of propane. The most "jarring" or loudest part of the ride, is when they use the burners.








 To get into the balloon, we used footholds, and climbed over the side, as though getting onto a horse. (If you cannot do that, there other ways to get into a balloon basket. They are handicapped accessible! Please don't let a different ability stop you from taking this amazing adventure!

 As we lifted off, it was a bit of a surprise, because you don't really feel much movement. It is quite like standing on the ground.



As we rose, so too did the sun. It was an amazing, awesome sight.






At this point, we reached a mile (which is equivalent to 5280 feet). The smoke stacks you see are not really smoke stacks, but rather, nuclear reactor cooling towers for the Exelon Limerick Nuclear Power Plant).









Here is a really amazing view of the sunrise!













Next, we floated around the region, dipping so low one point, to be about  two feet above the Skuylkill River.




Here we are, slowly descending, over the river. We could have reached out and touched the trees!











A reflection of the balloon in the river. (By the way, that is seaweed growing).













Toward the end of the ride, we needed to find a place to land. Flat, soft and open areas are ideal. Did you know that baskets are still made of wicker, because they absorb the impact best, out of most materials.



We learned landing positions, which, we didn't even get to use, as we landed upright, in the middle of someone's driveway!



To my surprise, they asked Hubs (for those of you who don't know, Hubs is my husband, Princess and Dozer's daddy) to be a guest balloon chaser and to help take down the balloon. I was very surprised to see him at the landing!
















The balloon was deflated and packed within ten minutes! We loved watching people come out of their houses and waving to us. Most people were very excited and ran to get their cameras or phones. If you have ever thought "Gee, I'd love to do that". I encourage you to do it!







We had pastries served afterward, along with orange juice, water or champagne (my first and last taste of it! Blech!).

We toasted (which is a big tradition). We toasted to the Balloonist Prayer.

               The wind has welcomed you the softness... 
The sun has kissed you with her warm lips. 
You've flown so high and so well, 
That God joins you in laughter and 
has set you gently back again, 
Into the loving arms of Mother Earth. 

It was a tremendous, awe inspiring, unique, delightful experience. There isn't too many other experiences that I could ever take my children to, that could compare to the amazing experience that we had! 

Reserve your flight today! Check them out at www.ushotairballoon.com or on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest of Foursquare! 

 Modern Mommy 


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