Hot Air Balloons are Orbs of a Different Kind

Today I was chasing orbs of a different kind: hot air balloons. First, by getting up at 3 a.m. to travel two and a half hours to the balloon field in Marana, outside Tucson, Arizona. Even when we’re in New Mexico for the White Sands hot air balloon rally and the alarm goes off in the hotel room at 4 a.m., we know it’s really 3 a.m. Arizona time.

After standing around in the dark, catching up with each other since the last rally a month or more ago, and listening to the pilots’ briefing it’s time to get to work.

The ground is dry enough and weed free enough that Dan Ewer, pilot of Foolish Pleasure Hot Air Balloon Rides, has decided we can lay out the balloon envelope without putting down a tarp.

Number one rule: never step on the envelope.

This is a job I usually do, holding open the throat of the balloon while the fan blows it full of air.

Propane fuel heats the air so that the balloon can rise.

We’re ready to tip back the wicker basket and begin the final heating of the air before lift off.

Now we’re just trying to keep the balloon from flying off before the pilot gives us the go ahead to set it free.

The lucky ones are airborne!

In tomorrow’s post I’ll give you the view from on high after I wandered over to another balloon to help crew and was asked if I’d like to go for a ride.


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