December 12, 2006

Hot Air Balloons: The Experience Of A Lifetime

One of the most gratifying experiences one can have in life is flying in hot air balloons. The feeling of floating seemingly effortlessly above the earth and sailing smoothly with the wind is unmatchable. As your hot air balloon drifts peacefully towards the sky, you have the advantage to see the world from an entirely different perspective. From above, everything looks so much smaller and insignificant. People seem as small as ants, cars seem more like toy cars and you feel like you’re on top of the world.

Hot air balloons are a great way to get away from it all and put life into perspective. A hot air balloon ride is the ultimate romantic date, especially when you and your special someone are lifting off during sunrise or sunset. Of course, balloons are also a unique way for your family to take on a new adventure together or boost your office morale with a little teambuilding high in the sky. Just about everyone can enjoy hot air balloons. They move at the same speed as the environment, which means they don’t cause motion sickness. And, as long as you’re in generally good health and not pregnant, you’ll be permitted to enjoy the serene beauty of viewing the earth from several feet up.

There are a couple of things to remember when you’re preparing for your hot air balloon flight though. Dress comfortably, just as you would on the ground. Because hot air balloons fly at the same pace as the air around it, you won’t have to deal with wind chill factors at all. And of course, bring your camera. Unless you’re a hobbyist, you’ll probably not treat yourself to many hot air balloon rides. So take a lot of pictures so you can look through them later and relive your wonderful top of the world experience again and again.

If you’re afraid of heights, you don’t have to worry because you can still enjoy the beauty of hot air balloons. Even watching the balloons from the ground is an amazing sight. Balloon season is generally from April through November and during that time you’re likely to see several balloons a day floating through the sky. You can even participate in the inflation process if you want. Learning how the balloons ignite, launch and stay afloat can be a lot of fun and you never know, it may intrigue you enough to get over your fear of heights and take flight.

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December 8, 2006

Hot Air Balloon Events for Everyone

Is there any sight more beautiful and awe inspiring, than a sky filled with a rainbow of hot air balloons? Regardless of your taste in adventure travel or your budget, feast your eyes on this wonderful spectacle, either from the ground or on board a balloon.

Below I have listed four different ballooning events for every adventure travel budget.

Just suppose you are the type who would like a budget adventure vacation that would give you lifelong bragging rights over all your friends.

Let us further suppose you have a taste for fine campaign and the gentle sway of a hot air balloon taking you above some of the most breathtakingly beautiful sites in Europe.

The annual Kentucky Derby Festival in Louisville, Kentucky is made up of over 70 events in the two weeks leading up to the famous horserace. One of these exciting events a piece of adventure travel you will never forget called, the Great Hot Air Balloon Race.

The competition format is a 'hare and hounds' style, which consists of the events sponsor taking off first in the 'Hare Balloon,' which in fact is shaped like a giant pink rabbit.

The winds determine the direction of the race as the other balloons take off in pursuit of the hare. The Hare balloon flies on until it finds an open field to land. The passengers then get out and place a large fabric target in the field.

The chase balloons then try to throw a small bag of Kentucky Bluegrass seed as close to the targets 'X' without landing. The pilot of the most accurate toss can collect a prize of $3000.

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November 24, 2006

The Wonder of Hot Air Balloons

While small, ordinary balloons can be entertaining, true wonder is had when one actually rides in a hot air balloon. These large balloons work in a completely different way, needing a constant flow of hot air pumped into their large balloons. Most large hot air balloons have big baskets suspended beneath. These baskets can be used to carry people who wish to ride in the hot air balloon.

Many people have ridden in hot air balloons over the centuries. Before there were planes and hang gliders, there were hot air balloons. When humans first began to take to the skies with any regularity, they used hot air balloons. In fact, many early parachute dare devils performed their feats out of hot air balloons, since there were no planes for them to jump from. There have even been around the world flights in such balloons. The famous book, Around the World in Eighty Days, makes use of a hot air balloon for the hero.

Today, there are hot air balloon races that combine the wonder of flying in the sky, open to the air, with the excitement of a race. One the most famous hot air balloon races takes place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, every year. Smaller races, like the one in Driggs, Idaho, also take place all over the country. Such races are usually accompanied by games on the ground, spectacular views, and good entertainment. Many locales turn the entire day into a hot air balloon festival, with the race as the focus. But many of these festivals are more than just places to race. Most festivals also have the opportunity for rides. Attendees can pay money to be taken up in a hot air balloon. For many people, this is a thrilling adventure. It is safer than sky diving hang gliding, but it allows you to feel a real sense of flight. It is not like being in a plane, where you have no contact with the air, and you are removed from your experience by a barrier of steel and glass.

However, one does not need to wait for a hot air balloon festival to enjoy a ride on a hot air balloon. Many companies are cropping up all around the country that offer hot air balloon rides for a variety of occasions. You can sight see in a hot air balloon. There are hot air balloon tours that can take you out over the Grand Canyon. Imagine interacting with nature in such a manner! Or, if colored leaves are your cup of tea, you can take fall leaf sight seeing tours over various New England states in hot air balloons. And many of these companies do not limit themselves to simply providing tours. They also offer a surprising amount of amenities. You can fly over the Grand Canyon at sunset, and then have the balloon set you down at a specially prepared romantic picnic, complete with champagne. Companies in the east offer similar options for fall leaf tours. You can be set down in the midst of a local vineyard and enjoy a wine tasting before floating back to your car.

Charles Kassotis

Learn more about hot air balloons, and other types of balloons, at the Balloon Spot

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