Hot Air Balloons

According to Wikipedia,

The hot air balloon is the first successful human-carrying flight technology. The first untethered manned hot air balloon flight was performed by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes on November 21, 1783, in Paris, France, in a balloon created by the Montgolfier brothers. The first hot air balloon flown in the Americas was launched from the Walnut Street Jail in Philadelphia on January 9, 1793, by the French aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard. Hot air balloons that can be propelled through the air rather than simply drifting with the wind are known as thermal airships.

We have all seen and admired hot air balloons, and maybe some of us have even ridden one (this does not apply to me). Colorado Springs has hosted an annual hot air balloon celebration since 1977 at Memorial Park, and even though its survival was tenuous a few years back when the organizers of the “Colorado Balloon Classic” decided to pull out, it was resurrected as the “Colorado Springs Labor Day Lift Off” which just took place from September 3 until September 5. While not the largest nationwide event (that honor, as well as that of being the largest in the world, goes to the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta in New Mexico which takes places each October over the course of more than a week and boasts over 500 balloons), it is the “longest-running and largest in the Rocky Mountain Region as well as in all of Colorado.”

And though we didn’t attend the Labor Day weekend festivities, and never have, which largely has to do with inertia and a dislike of large crowds with their attendant challenges, we always look forward to catching a few glimpses of the balloons after take-off. Because we live a few miles southeast of the venue, the direction into which the airships tend to travel, we often get good views of them.

This year’s calm conditions allowed the balloons to take off every day and thanks to a prolonged and seemingly interminably yard project (aren’t they all?), we were spending the mornings outside and were able to enjoy repeated appearances. I was even able to capture a few photos of some of the more whimsical representatives.

There were many more balloons with wonderful and unusual designs, and many photographers have already posted, and will continue to post, their images to the event’s website in order to participate in the local newspaper’s, The Gazette’s, Photo Contest (click here to view those submissions). When I see the pictures of the various balloon shapes and shades, of illuminated balloons at dusk, and of balloons floating above Memorial Park’s Prospect Lake, I feel slight tinges of regret about not having overcome my reservations and plunged into the festival (if not into the lake). Maybe next year.

67 thoughts on “Hot Air Balloons

  1. Over the decades, we managed to visit just two balloon festivals, but would encourage you to do so some time. In both cases, the most recent in 2018 in Albuquerque, guests were able to see some balloons inflated, walk among inflated balloons and see them up close and see some take off. It was well worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the designs of these balloons, especially the frog. I remember once seeing a hot-air balloon event in Edinburgh – amazing to see. And once the balloon used by BBC TV for some of their channel adverts flew over our house – loved that!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I like the unusual designs! For some reason, I thought they had to look like balloons… We have no wind so therefore no balloons but I have seen them on a road trip in Napa. So peaceful to look at but have no desire to go in one!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t know anything about the mechanics of balloon flight, but it’s obviously possible to fly them even if they don’t have the traditional balloon shapes. Looking at photographs of the events, people always seem particularly enthralled by those unusual designs (which is perfectly understandable).
      I don’t think I have excluded taking a balloon ride one of these days. It simply hasn’t come up, but I know I would love the bird’s eye perspective.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The name Montgolfier is well known to me but only now am I hearing the names of the men who made the ascent, de Rozier and d’Arlandes.

    I’m like you in generally avoiding crowds and noise. It may well correlate with where on the introvert~extrovert continuum a person falls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Like you, I had heard the name Montgolfier, but not those of the two men who piloted the first flight.

      It’s not that I have never attended an event with many people present, and I’m not saying that I will never do so again, but in order to overcome my qualms about large gatherings, I have to be very motivated. I can only conclude that my motivation to attend the festival this year was insufficient.

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  5. Ha! Love this posting. I’m with you about watching as opposed to flying in one, though! The closest I got was when a ReMax balloon was tethered in the playground at our school so kids could “ride” in it quite high in the air, as it was held in place with ropes. It was my idea of the perfect balloon journey. 😉
    Hope you are well! I’ve had a busy summer, and am just returning to WP these last few days. Can’t wait to catch up on posts I have missed.
    Cheers,
    Julie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Julie,
      Nice to hear from you. I always assume that you are busy with your lush and generous garden when I don’t see you in the blogosphere during the summer and I hope it has brought you much happiness.

      Your childhood balloon experience sounds like fun, though one could never be quite certain that the ropes wouldn’t be cut! A little thrill, no doubt.

      Take care,
      Tanja

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  6. I’ve ridden one when I was a kid, and I still remember how beautiful the view was (and also how hot my back got🤣) It’s quite interesting to see other unique shaped hot air ballons…I’ve only seen the classic ones until I read your post👀💕

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good for you for having had the chance to fly in a balloon as a child Tanooki. It’s easy to see that the experience would be very memorable.
      I find the traditional balloons very attractive, but it’s fun to see so many different shapes and motifs represented also.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. For years, Nasa and the Lunar Institute here sponsored a festival called the “Ballunar Liftoff.” Because I live across the lake from Nasa, I always could watch them from my balcony, and it was great fun. Coastal winds could be a challenge, though; I’m glad conditions were right for your balloonists.

    In the evenings, they would have what was called a “glow” — the balloons were kept on the ground, but illuminated by the lights of their burners. It was a beautiful sight, that’s for sure; the light shining through them created quite a different atmosphere. Here’s a group of photos that’s quite nice. If you scroll down a bit, you can see one of the balloons that was shaped like the space shuttle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Having a balcony seat is even better, and a space shuttle balloon sounds quite amazing! Our local festival also does the “glow,” which sounds especially atmospheric. I really do want to go see those balloons from a closer vantage point one of these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Wie schön und lustig einige der Ballons aussehen! Ja, so eine Ballonfahrt ist ein außergewöhnliches und traumhaftes Erlebnis, das ich jedem nur empfehlen kann. Vor ein paar Jahren hatte ich die Freude und das große Vergnügen, an einer solchen Fahrt teilnehmen zu können und ich war schwer begeistert. Am Ende der Fahrt wurden wir “Neulinge” mit einer “Taufzeremonie” in den “Luftadel” erhoben, bekamen einen entsprechenden Namen und eine Urkunde.
    Das war eine tolle Erfahrung!
    Liebe Grüße aus dem Sommerregen……von Rosie

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Mr. P, I’m glad you enjoyed these fun creations.

      I’m sorry about Queen Elizabeth’s passing. She was a remarkable lady and I imagine that her departure during these particularly unsettled times adds to the sense of loss and mourning.

      Kind regards,
      Tanja

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Tanja. Paradoxically the passing of the Queen was both entirely predictable and totally unimaginable. I never met her, obviously, (although I’ve seen her “in the flesh” a couple of times) and yet she’s been a fixture in the background of my life for 66 years. Politicians come and go – thankfully! – but monarchs last a lifetime. A period of adjustment is required, and it will be interesting to stand back and watch how things unfold. Unsettling times, to be sure, in a country already destabilised by divisive politics, swiftly rising prices and the long-term effects of Brexit and Covid.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Even when we know something will eventually happen, psychologically we don’t seem to be able to deal with it until it’s a fait accompli.

        I’m sure you and the entire country (as well as the rest of the world, as a matter of fact) will adjust to Elizabeth being gone. She was unique, and it will be a challenge for Charles to carve out his own niche. A lot has been said about the Queen’s inscrutability as part of her appeal, but I actually like that Charles has spoken out on climate change and on the history of slavery, to name just a few topics.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, the Queen will be a tough act to follow. In some circles here Charles is regarded with suspicion for the very reason that you like him, that he has spoken out on some difficult topics. This is often expressed as a concern that the monarch should maintain a neutral stance on all things, and in particular should be “above” politics. I suspect, however, that in many cases his critics simply object to the stance he takes on these controversial issues, and not that he has spoken out at all.

        Those with a conservative mindset often regard Charles as too progressive in his outlook. Personally, I find him thoughtful and wise. I think he will make a good monarch, although different in style from his mother. He will inevitably be less outspoken than he was in his days as Prince of Wales, but I imagine he will continue to express his views behind the scenes. These are interesting times!

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      • I think most people agree that it would not be good for Charles to simply try to emulate his mother. I’m sure he can find his own style if he is given a chance and not criticized at every turn.

        I can’t imagine the degree of scrutiny these royals have to suffer all the time and I wish people and the press were less critical.

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      • Agreed. I find it painful to watch at the moment, Charles being required to grieve in public while the whole world watches on television. Whatever one’s view of the monarchy as an institution there is also a human dimension to this situation, and right now I wish Charles and the rest of his family could be left in peace for a while, to come to terms with their loss in their own way and in private.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. What fun! I’ve never been to a festival. I’m quite sure I’d never be able to handle the one in ABQ… far too much crowd for my taste, but I do remember living in a relatively empty valley in Utah where we’d quite often see them floating around… even got to help pack one up after it landed on occasion. It looks like I’ll just have to settle for seeing the world from up high with the drone… things certainly look a whole lot different from that height and angle!
    Thanks for an enjoyable view of your balloons.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love hot air balloons! There is just something about them (comical shapes, brilliant colors, awe at those who dare actually ride in one perhaps), but they always make me smile. Some day I want to get to a big balloonfest, for now I have to live vicariously through your shots! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree with you: these balloons are very special. And as much as I dislike large gatherings of people, I still plan to attend one of these festivals to get a much closer look and understanding of how they work. Let’s hope you and I will be able to one of these days.
      Thank you for your comment.

      Like

  11. I too have only seen traditional balloons so the ones in your photos are quite a revelation. They are most inventive and fun and it must have been a great diversion to watch while doing your yard project.

    Like

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