Tag Archives: hot air balloon launch

Full O’ Hot Air

That would be a good description of our weekend.

Early Saturday morning, we helped our balloonist friend, Mark, with a launch.  Once again, it was another beautiful morning.

After nearly an hour-long flight, Mark landed near a cotton field.  The farmer is a friend of ours and just happened to be in the field that morning.  He took this photo as the balloon was landing and gave me permission to share.

Photo courtesy of J. Oliver

Once the balloon was back on the ground, Motor Man and I took off on the 5-plus hour drive to Statesville, NC for the Carolina Balloon Fest. A coastal storm forced cancellation of the activities scheduled for Saturday afternoon and evening.

But, by lunchtime Sunday, the storm had passed.  Between those gorgeous blue skies with the white clouds,  and the vibrant colors of the balloons, it made for quite the photo op. There were a total of around fifty balloons at the festival; about half of them had flown early Saturday morning.

Many of the others launched on Sunday afternoon.

Not all of the balloons launched: some did what’s called a “candlestick”, where they just fire the burner. Another photo op.

Sometimes the balloonist “burps” the burner, and I was able to catch this poof of fire during one of those times.

Mark put us in contact with a friend of his who was at the festival, and he allowed me my first chance to “fire” the burner.

Then Motor Man had a turn.

There were so many beautiful balloons, including this…cheetah (I think).  The afternoon sun illuminated it perfectly after its launch.

And, in keeping with the season:

So, yes, our weekend was full of hot air….in a good way.

~These Days Of Mine~


Early Morning Ballooning

Motor Man and I first met Mark, our friend who has a hot air balloon business, back in 2013. Since that time, we’ve gone for three balloon rides and been at many launches and landings.

We enjoy meeting Mark’s passengers, most of whom have never been in a hot air balloon.  I take pictures of them in the basket before their flight and sometimes after the landing.  And, of course, I take pictures during the flight.  I usually get their email address and send the best photos to them. And Motor Man usually helps with the launch. (It’s rather involved.)

Although Mark has flown many times in our area, most people have never seen the balloon in flight.  Perhaps that’s because he prefers to fly early in the morning, just around or a little after sunrise. So it’s always fun to see folks stopping, sometimes pulling over on the shoulder of the road, to watch.

I thought I’d share some pictures from recent balloon flights.

This is one of Mark’s balloons; he named it “Spectrum”. It’s a beautiful balloon, or “envelope”, as it’s called.

One of the most fun experiences we’ve had was a few weeks ago, early in the morning. Mark was flying the balloon very low.  If you’ve never seen a hot air balloon in flight, you may not realize that it is SO quiet, except for the occasional few seconds when the burner is activated. This was an overpass on a country road, with thankfully, no traffic. (The white van is Mark’s “chase vehicle”, being driven by a ground crew member, and it was stopped, as were we.)

It doesn’t happen with every flight, but it’s always fun when the  balloon flies directly over us.

With so many of the flights being at sunrise, it’s easy to get really pretty photos.

And water reflections are always nice.

There are opportunities when the balloon is low enough that you can actually see and talk with (and wave to) the passengers.

What we do is called “chasing the balloon”… we’re watching for it  and driving in the direction we think it will land.  That isn’t always easy: we often lose sight of it,  and the roads don’t always go in the direction we need.

And as much as everyone loves a balloon flight, there’s one aspect that similar to a plane flight: it’s always good to have a nice, smooth landing.

Here’s a short video I took of a recent launch.  That’s Motor Man’s voice you hear at the beginning. (Make sure your speakers are on.)

I know hot air ballooning isn’t for everyone, but if you ever have the chance to go….

~These Days Of Mine~





Up, Up And Away

A couple of months ago, Motor Man and I met Mark, the owner of a local hot air balloon company. Within a few minutes, they had exchanged cell phone numbers, and they’ve spoken occasionally since that time.

(We are planning a balloon ride soon, but it just hasn’t happened yet.)

Recently, we learned, through Mark, that members of a production company, hired by the Virginia Historical Society, would be filming some shots of our area from the balloons. The first launch took place just after sunrise Tuesday morning  from our local park, and Motor Man and I were invited to be there.


Two balloons were used in order for the cameramen to get shots of the “other” balloon during flight. This photo was taken just after the balloons were unloaded from the trucks and stretched across the ground. (That’s historic Windsor Castle in the background.)

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Mark showed one of the cameramen the inside of the balloon as it was being inflated with air from a large fan.

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Motor Man and I helped hold one of the balloons as it was inflated. Then, heat from the burner lifted the balloon off the ground.  (That’s my hand you see at the bottom right of the photo. We were a little closer to that fire than I would have liked.)

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This is the other balloon being inflated. You don’t realize how huge those balloons are until you see them on the ground.

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Motor Man and a crew member had to hold the basket down until it could be untethered from the truck. You can see that between the wind and the heat from the burner, it was starting to lift off the ground, even with a basket full of people.

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And they’re off!

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It was interesting to see all that was involved in launching the balloons and so beautiful to watch them just drifting away.

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~These Days Of Mine~