Glenrose RoseÕs Balloon Flight
I have always wanted to go up in an air balloon, so when I was privileged to be awarded Canoe VictoriaÕs Volunteer of the Year, and was presented with a voucher from Red Ballooning, the first thought that came into my head was ÒIÕll go for a ballooning flight!Ó Then I decided I had better check out their website in case there was something else I might like to do. I was amazed at the many adventure opportunities that were available, but came back to my first choice of the balloon flight over the city.
Wednesday 7th March saw both Glen (couldnÕt let my husband miss out) and I in the lounge at the Hilton Hotel at 5 30am, along with 28 other excited passengers. After signing indemnity forms etc., groups of 8 piled into the back of various transports. . Our vehicle a troop carrier, towed the week old wicker basket. The other people with us were very pleasant and interesting, one couple were from Germany on their honeymoon. We were driven to Latrobe University where we all piled out to watch the launching of the black weather balloon. Unfortunately the winds were too strong to allow us to fly over the city, we were given the option to leave from Westerfolds Park and finish at Moorabbin Airport, or try for the city another day. We all agreed to leave from Westerfolds Park, so once again piled back into our vehicles. On arrival the black weather balloon was again launched, and conditions found favourable, so the 3 balloons were unloaded and attached to the baskets with help from we passengers, The balloons are enormous stretched out on the ground, the basket is laid on the side, once the balloon starts to fill and rise it pulls the basket upright for the passengers to climb in. There are little square spaced footholes in the side of the basket to help climb in. The big gas burners make quick, but noisy work of filling the balloons, they looked spectacular as they rose and you couldnÕt help feeling excited about going up for the ride. The basket is divided into 3 sections, the front section for the pilot & equipment, then 5 people down each side. Before take off we practiced landing position which was to squat down with our backs against the inside divider, with knees and hands pushing against the outer wall for stability.
I am terrified of heights but ballooning didnÕt scare me at all Ð I must admit the basket coming up as high as my chest gave me more confidence. The balloon rose smoothly and we were off Ð it was a great feeling. The baskets had a boom with a camera attached and every so often our pilot would take photos of us with a different background. It was amazing how quickly the balloon could rise and lower in height. Rising was very noisy when the burners started up, but mostly the time in the air it was extremely calm and peaceful. The weather was perfect, not at all cold and the views fantastic. It was also interesting watching the 2 other balloons with us, they looked so magnificent.
Our route took us across Doncaster, Burwood, Glen Waverley, Oakleigh to Morrabbin Airport. Dogs barked as we glided past, children and pedestrians waved and called out, and I am sure the car drivers wished they could change places with us. Backyard swimming pools and neat yards really stand out when viewed from above. Also it was good to see the green grass appearing after our dry summer. It was quite difficult to work out your location, it is much easier to go by landmarks than roads At times we went down very low and you could see peopleÕs facial expressions quite easily. Our pilot informed us we could fly much closer to the ground in the suburbs than the city due to height restrictions. The flight ended way too soon, we took our squatting position and 3 bumps later the basket landed on its side then righted itself for us to climb out. After helping to pack all the equipment away, we were driven back to the Hilton Hotel for a late but very nice breakfast banquet.
Even though I was disappointed that the flight hadnÕt been over the city, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and didnÕt want the adventure to end. Now I have another flight to look forward to Ð over the city! To anybody who has not been air ballooning Ð try it, you will love it! For people who dislike heights, like me, once you are in the basket it feels so peaceful your fears will evaporate. Thank you, Canoe Victoria, for the award