Monday, April 20, 2009

Hot Air Balloon

Last Friday our family was able to help Remax put up their hot air balloon. We were so excited. First we went to an open field in a neighborhood that was southwest of the airport. That is where they have taken off for the past two years and they have always ended up at the airport perfectly so this was the plan again. We were the first ones there because we were so excited and we waited for all the others. We brought Tony's brother Nic along because we were visiting with him right before we left and he was so jealous we invited him to come with. After nearly everyone was there the man in charge filled up a little party balloon and let it float. It ended up heading southeast. This was a problem because if they left from where we were, they would never make it to the Niles Airport, may the South Bend airport but who wants to land there in a balloon next to those big jets?

We waited for the last in the group to arrive and then we started heading north. We pulled over in a big open field near a company that looked closed. We had to hurry because sunset was on it's way. We unpacked and unrolled the huge balloon. It was a lot bigger than I thought it would be. We had a big fan out to fill the balloon with air. It was like a fan you'd see at a school dance or something. Tony made the joke that it was time for us to all blow. We put him in his place by letting him know he had more hot air than the rest of us.

I got to help spread out the balloon so the air could fill it up. It really didn't take as long as I thought it would. So after it was pretty full they turned the basket right side up and started the fire. It was really hot. I was standing maybe six feet from it and it was really loud and very hot. I couldn't imagine being directly below it while riding in it.
After everything was set up four people got in and took off. It was a very fast take off. I thought it would move slowly but it was real quick. The man navigating the balloon was showing them cool tricks, like quick falls and dropping faster than paper. They had a good time up there.
We got in the van and began our pursuit.
It was so much fun chasing the balloon around. We followed it for awhile and then we just headed to the airport. We saw the big balloon coming but when he got to the airport he didn't have enough time to land because the wind was blowing kind of fast, so they continued southeast. We got back in the van and again began to follow. Tony, Nic and I were laughing it up acting like we were on some official balloon chasers team. The balloon would get low and we'd think it was going to land so we'd find a place to park near the respective field. Then they couldn't land quick enough before hitting trees so they'd go back up to find another spot. It really was fun trying to guess between the three adults in our vehicle if they'd be able to land or not. We had at least six false alarms. Now the whole time we were chasing them we were getting closer to "E" in our gas tank. We didn't want to get gas though, because we didn't want to miss anything. We also had two boys who had to go to the bathroom. They said they could hold it. All this just added to the suspense and thrill of being balloon chasers. It was also fun to see others pulling over and children yelling, and dogs barking at the balloon as we drove by. The balloon once was passing over a field where cows were grazing. I've never seen cows run like that before. They were scared to death. They must have seen the movie Rat Race.
Anyway, we followed them to a house that had a nice field. It was now or never. We were on US 12 and would soon be heading into Granger where there would be no open spaces. The pilot dropped a rope for us to grab. One man got it but he started getting lifted off the ground so he let go. He probably wet his pants. Then a bunch of the men grabbed it and stopped the balloon before it ran into some trees. Tony and the one guy held on the rope so the others could start deflating the balloon before it blew away. They even let Koen help hold on to the rope. When the balloon was mostly deflated and Tony and the other guy didn't need to hold on to it anymore they left Koen in charge of holding the rope and instructed him that if the balloon floated away it would be his responsibility to hold on to it. I thought that was funny. Again, it did not take nearly as long as I had expected for the balloon to be deflated. I think it took only 15 min. and they were rolling it up and packing it. The farmer and his family who lived there felt privileged to have the balloon land in their yard
Another funny thing about it was there was a little girl who lives next door to the Ferris'. They were the ones who invited us. She went to their house to ride some horses as they were leaving so they brought her with. Then they let her ride in the balloon. What a surprise for her. I'm sure she'll never forget it. We joked that when she got home and told her parents what she had been up to they'd never believe her.
Our family had a real nice time and it was fun to feel almost young again following that balloon around town. I hope the boys remember it and I also hope that we get to help again next year. Maybe some day I'll get to go up too.


ann said...

looks like a LOT of fun!

Puphigirl said...

I'm still cracking up thinking about the guy holding the rope and starting to lift up. I bet he did pee his pants in a panic.

Ruthykins said...

yeah, i cracked up at the thought of the guy peeing his pants. i almost hope he did. is that mean?

okeydokeyifine said...

When I was a girl I slways liked to see a balloon up in the air.
Back in the day it was not as common as it is nowadays.
Reno has a balloon race every year. Look it up on line and see the hundreds of balloons all taking off. The first year we went I was so surprised. I thought maybe a few balloons took off but they dotted the sky.

So glad you got to be part of that excitement. Dad and I would have loved it.

EmmaP said...

fun times... dont know why i didnt see this post the first time around!