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Hot Air Balloon Ride over Orlando.
During a recent holiday we took a hot air balloon ride over Orlando. This was to celebrate a significant birthday of a member of our family.
We met our pilots and chase crew at a hotel close to the Disney area at 5-30am. Before leaving the hotel we filled in necessary paperwork and were briefed about the flight.
Before leaving the hotel, the pilots let off a helium balloon to determine the wind speed and direction. This enabled them to decide on that mornings launch site. Once this was decided we set of in a minbus with balloon and basket in tow, to the launch site.
Once the balloon and the basket were unloaded, two members of the party were instructed to hold the balloon whilst a huge fan blew cold air into it. At this point the balloon was on it’s side. Once sufficiently inflated the fire was ignited and the air was heated. Gradually the balloon started to rise, righting the basket at which point we were instructed to climb in.
A few blasts of hot air later and we started to leave the ground, so gently that there was hardly any feeling of any movement. Within minutes we were gliding above the trees, greeting the sunrise over the orange groves, a magnificent sight as the mist rose from between the trees.
The flight continued over countryside, housing developments and the highways of Orlando. There was little sense of movement and it was eerily quiet except for the blasts of flame heating the air in the balloon.
All too soon we were coming into land, although we had been airborne for one hour. We were instructed to hold onto the handles inside the basket and bend our knees ready for landing. The basket touched the ground and then lifted again slightly as the wind took hold of the balloon again. This happened several more times leading to the basket “skipping” along the ground, rather more than we had been warned it would! ! Eventually it came to rest and we were instructed to climb out. The men in the party followed instructions to fold up the balloon. The ladies in the party held a huge bag which the balloon was loaded into.
Once the balloon and basket were back on the trucks we were toasted with champagne using the beautiful words of the balloonist’s prayer -
The winds have welcomed you with softness,
The sun has blessed you with his warm hands
You have flown so high and so free,
That God has joined you in laughter,
And set you gently again,
Into the loving arms of mother earth
After all this we returned to the hotel for breakfast where we were presented with certificates to commemorate our flight. This was a truly exhilarating experience and well worth considering as an alternative to the hustle and bustle of Orlando’s theme parks.
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