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Hot Air Balloon Ride

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In the early summer of 2005 Julie treated me (and herself) to a hot air balloon ride!
 
We had to get up at 4:30am (!!) to meet at 5:30am. We drove out to a country airstrip where the team went to work.

Here's the sun rising.

The first they do in the setup is test the heaters. They make quite a loud noise!
The balloons are spread out on the ground.

There were three balloons going up this morning.

Three cows watched curiously from a nearby field.
Then the balloon is spread out.
Big gas powered fans are used to inflate the balloons. Yeah, I'll bet you were wondering how they would get the balloons filled with air without burning them! I know I was.
Inside "our" balloon.
The three balloons inflating.
No pics in between the last one and this one, as I had to scramble and get in for liftoff.

Here we are heading away from the launch place.

Looking up into the envelope of hot air that is keeping us aloft.

The flame from the heater is just visible.

These heaters had to be fired frequently in order to keep the air warm enough to keep us up.

Here's a closeup of the heaters, taken after the flight.

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