Thursday, September 12, 2013

Hot Air Balloon Ride - Port St Lucie, FL

Hot Air Balloon Reflection

This photo, like many of my photos, comes with an interesting story. My sister had won tickets for a hot air balloon ride and after holding them for a nearly two years, offered them to me. I was there the next weekend, camera in hand and only days to spare before they expired.

The day of the flight was perfect, which is not always the case when scheduling this type of adventure. The air was calm, the sky blue, and the balloon company questionable. I flew with a captain, and a couple celebrating an anniversary of some sort. Even though my sister had two tickets, I could not find anyone else willing to go on such short notice. Just as well as the basket was fairly small. Not only that but I learned the balloon had crashed the day before and was patched with high temperature duct tape. That made my fellow passengers a bit nervous for some reason.

After going through the ritual of inflating the balloon and launching, we barely cleared some power lines. I am sure we were way too close as was the top of my head to the fireball heating the balloon. We drifted along for a bit then stopped dead still in the air 2,000 feet above a neighborhood and a single barking bog determined to alert everyone of our intrusion. It was the most eerie feeling. Near silence and standing completely still in mid air in a wicker basket. Only the ferocious whoosh of  a giant column of fire, again only inches from my head, to disturb the moment.

As we descended,  the wind  once again took control of our flight. To get this shot, I had to wedge my foot on the huge tank of gas that was fueling our trip, lean way over the basket, and shoot straight down into a canal we were passing over. The captain and crew were not impressed. I was more interested in getting a once in a life time shot than thinking about the consequences of my foot slipping and me taking my final shot - a closeup of the ground.

Our landing was pretty uneventful as balloon landings go. It was nice to see the couple so happy to be in each others arms on the ground again. Nothing renews a bond like duct tape, a near miss with power lines, and witnessing crazy people taking risks just for a good photo I guess.

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