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News in Youth Services

Monday, June 19, 2017

Hot Air Balloons

I have always wanted to take a hot air balloon ride.  It looks both exhilarating and terrifying to me.  Recently I have been looking into where I could go to ride in one.  I stumbled across a nearby festival in Lisle, Illinois, called Lisle Eyes to the Sky Festival, where they offer tethered rides.  Tethered rides means the balloon is attached to a rope and then rises about 50 feet into the air.  They only fly in the early morning and evening, weather permitting.  The nice thing about this festival is that it benefits local charities.  

Hot air balloons fly in the morning or evening when the air cools down.  The hot air in the balloon causes the balloon to rise.  There are different sized baskets that can fit 3-4 people or larger baskets that carry 15 or more people.  The balloons drift where the wind blows, so the balloon pilot does not steer the balloon.  However, the pilot does have some control of the balloon by being able to adjust how high or low the balloon flies.  Before the pilot takes flight, the pilot gets a weather report to find out the direction of the wind and the wind speed.  

I never really thought about how a hot air balloon couldn't be steered.  So I wondered a few things:  How does the balloon get back down to the ground? How do they get back home?  I found out that the pilot looks for an open field and radios a truck to tell the crew where they are landing.  To land, the pilot pulls on the cord to open the vent on top of the balloon.  The hot air goes out and the cooler air flows in through the bottom. Then the balloon starts to descend.    Once on the ground, the crew packs up the balloon and the passengers climb inside the truck to go back to where the ride started.  

Here are a few fun facts about hot air balloons:

New Mexico festival
*The first hot air balloon flight took place in 1783.  The passengers of that first ride were a sheep, a duck and a chicken!  The brothers had promised their dad they wouldn't fly in the balloon themselves!

*The first human flight took place two months later.  

*Today, hot air balloon festivals occur all over the world.  The largest one is in New Mexico.  About 750 balloons fly in it.  

Hot air balloon books

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