It’s 6 a.m. on a Sunday the end of August, and I am in one of two hot air balloons rising up over a small town in Massachusetts with the pilot, Rudi of Dragon Fire Balloon Adventures, my husband, and my teenage son. We are in Lucy, one of Rudi’s two hot air balloons, this one featuring a tie dye design and formally called Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.
The sun has just risen; the air is cool and still. So still, in fact, that at first we don’t go anywhere except straight up. The cars and planes and people get smaller and smaller as we rise to about 900 feet.
We can see beyond the airport to more trees and houses and hills in the distance. We watch as the other balloon moves further west while we hang out above the runway.
It is peaceful up here in the sky. There is no sound except for the noise of the burner and the occasional sounds of our voices.
Rudi expertly controls the hot air flow and lets us down a little, hoping to catch a breeze at a different altitude to move us away from the airport and beyond, and slowly we do move, now just above the trees and telephone wires, now just above the houses.
We check out the landscaping designs, the decks and patios and discover what’s hidden behind some of those houses.
We watch our reflection in a pond full of lilypads and touch down on a nearby road to change passengers. While the crew holds the basket, our teenage son gets out and our teenage daughter gets in.
And up we go again, followed by the chase vehicles, as we travel not as high but further with the wind.
We see deer, startled by the inconsistent noise of the fire’s hot air.
We pass over conservation land and farm fields and more houses, finally landing in someone’s front yard at the end of a cul-de-sac.
As we wait for the chase vehicles to arrive with our crew, we notice that no one is home. The pool is covered, the shutters closed. They will miss the thrill of a hot air balloon in their front yard and the complimentary bottle of champagne.
We are watched by the neighbors as we help the crew pack up the balloon, quickly and efficiently, and head back to the airport where we join the other balloon’s crew and passengers for our own champagne.
To learn more about hot air balloons and how they work, click here.
Trip taken August 2012.