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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Is it really like to ride in a hot air balloon?

This article about what it’s like to take a hot air balloon ride after my awesome morning flight!

It was 5:30 in the morning and the field was shrouded in a mystical mist. The sun rose and broke through the trees as a group of boys unloaded a large basket of hot air balloons from a trailer. Then came the balloons, spreading and scattering on the wet grass like giant picnic blankets. It’s like a magic trick because they keep inflating and placing more balloons.

As the sun rose, the huge balloon swelled with roaring flames and the 16 excited passengers gathered around the basket.

I went upstairs excited, excited that I was finally going to do something I had been dreaming of for years. Hot air balloon rides are on my 30 bucket list, and I get reminded every time I see a balloon floating majestically in the clouds.

But now that I was in that wicker basket, she looked so small and frail. It was nothing more than my wicker dog basket, and the thought of flying through the sky in a dog basket filled me with unexpected horror.

I’m usually not afraid of such things. I love flying and although I’m not an adrenaline junkie, I do enjoy adventure sports that aren’t uncommon. Walking in a hot air balloon is so calm and relaxing that it never occurred to me that I would be scared!

I started taking selfies and waving at the kids who came to see their parents in the balloons. I asked the pilot, “How high are we going?” And “How long have you been flying in a balloon?”.

“Every ride is different,” the pilot told us. “You don’t have much control over the balloon other than going up and down, so you really have to let the wind blow you. You don’t know where you’re going to end up and you can’t control the direction you’re going.”

Well, it makes me feel better. Not

Enjoy Best hot air balloon Vilnius flight in Vilnius

There’s something eerie about this lack of control, but it’s ultimately calming. In a world where we try to control everything, it’s scary to fly into the sky and let nature guide you in the direction you want. You can’t plan to land in a certain space or go in a certain direction, you just have to relax and trust that everything will be okay. Once you accept this, hot air balloons are the most magical way to travel.

Another jet of fire was shot into the balloon and the guys on the ground released the ropes. With a little jolt and a cheer from the spectators on the ground, we were off.

We rose up so gently that if I’d closed my eyes I wouldn’t have known we were moving. It was so steady and the basket felt so secure and firm. There wasn’t a wobble or even a tremor or a belly flip, it was just perfectly still.

As the people below us because smaller and smaller I looked up to finally appreciate that view. And wow, what a view.

With nothing between you and the vast landscape, it looks even prettier. It’s different looking at it through the window of a plane. When you’re on a plane you’re in a little bubble and you’re separated from the view. But in a balloon it’s right there, you’re in the landscape. You can reach out to the air and touch it. You can hear every cow moo and every sheep bleat and every dog bark. You can feel the stillness of the crisp morning air and the warmth of the sun. You feel like you need to whisper so you don’t disturb the birds so there’s this hushed, excited silence.

We’d been incredibly lucky with the weather for this balloon flight. More than 50% of hot air balloon rides are canceled in the UK due to bad weather, meaning most people’s flights are canceled and rescheduled. Many people’s flights will be canceled multiple times and if you’re restricted on dates you could be waiting for months. We were the only people in our balloon who had managed to get out on our first attempt and we couldn’t have wished for better weather. It was bright, sunny and clear with just the right amount of wind to steer the balloon through the sky.

When we rose up to 2,000ft the air was so still we barely moved. We hung up there for a while, enjoying the views and pointing out the distant landmarks. It was incredible to see how the skies changed above different areas. When we looked towards Wales the sky was clear and blue, but a murky haze lingered over the distant city of Liverpool.

Our hour in the sky was coming to an end and our pilot began scouring the fields below for a suitable place to land. While he doesn’t have that much control over which field he lands in, he will do his best to find a good spot. It needs to be a field with short grass to avoid ruining any crops but it can’t have any animals in it. He doesn’t want to get too close to train tracks or roads and doesn’t want to go directly over any animals in case they’re scared. He told us that most farmers are very accommodating when he lands in their fields – provided he doesn’t harm their crops or animals. He always leaves a bottle of scotch to sweeten the deal so I’d imagine some farmers would welcome his landing!

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