Hot Air Ballooning

Monday, Apr 14, 2008 at 11:31

ExplorOz - David & Michelle

Yesterday David went hot air ballooning in Northam - what a beautiful day. Only David flew - I had to babysit the kids, but we all participated in the takoff and landing procedures (and took the photos) and enjoyed champagine breakfast with everyone after the flight.

This was a 40th birthday present for David that I had organised last year as a collective present from family members. The only drawback is the early morning and for us this meant getting the family up at 3.15am on the first Sunday of the school holidays, and a 1.5 hr drive to Northam for a 5.15am meeting at the Northam airfield for briefing etc. There are two operators in Northam, we went with Windward Adventures. There were 26 passengers so they used two balloons. David was in the larger one which holds 20 people. His was the yellow balloon with a rainbow pattern they call Rainbow Drifter. Very pretty.

They transported us in a bus, and two Troopys towed the two baskets and gear to the paddocks pre-dawn. The kids loved playing in the paddock kicking the paddy-melons about whilst the adults seriously listened to safety warnings and briefings about what they had to do to help in the launch. The whole setup procedure was rather lengthy and I'm not sure if it was my fault for busily taking photos and not listening to the briefings but I negleted to be aware of how noisy (or scary) the kids might find the gas jets which are used to fill the balloons with hot air to get them upright.

So I happened to be busy taking photos about 50m away from the kids when the first gas jet was fired up and when I heard the roar I instinctly knew Chardae would be petrified. In fact, Chardae was alongside it at the time and over all the noise you could still hear her screaming in terror and then I saw her running around in circles screaming like a banshee trying to find me! She was literally traumatised by it, shaking all over, poor little thing. Then as I held her and we watched the balloon lift up off the ground to hover above the basket she looked up the enormous thing (some 40m high) and squealled "I don't like it! I want to get away from it!" and lots of Arghhs! I never got the chance to even give David a kiss for luck as he climbed aboard and they took off into the sky - peace for him but leaving me with screams.
The flight lasted for about 1 hour during which the non-flying participants were transported in the bus to "chase" the balloon across the Avon Valley so that we could be at the landing point (wherever that happened to be). I was suprised to say the least when we turned back into the airfield and the balloon landed perfectly, so much so they even got it onto the back of the trailer with all passengers on board before deflating the balloon. All participants were then transported into Northam to Fitzgeralds for a huge breakfast and we headed back to Perth around 9.30am.

Still, after all this, our day was only just beginning. I took the kids to a birthday party for 2 hours and then we got our wheelbarrow and shovels etc and went to the kids school for a busy bee cleanup/gardening... and collapsed at the end of the day at 8.30pm.
David (DM) & Michelle (MM)
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Always working not enough travelling!
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