Thursday night was the kick off to the 42nd Adirondack Balloon Festival and all of the balloons were grounded by the weather, mostly the winds.
Friday seemed to be much more favorable so we headed to the airport about 4:30 pm for the afternoon launch. We had pre-paid parking which I highly recommend! Why? Because it gets you much closer to the airport proper and when you are carrying a chair and camera gear, less is certainly more. :)
You need to arrive early and for ballooners it’s almost like going to a football game and tailgating! There are food trucks and craft vendors. The kites always do well and there are always a bunch of them flying as we wait for the main event, the hot air balloons.
You never know if there is going to be a launch until right before they go up. All eyes watch the wind socks because wind gusts will put a kibosh on the launch every time. Safety First.
As I said, Friday night seemed to hold a lot of promise. The sky was clear and the wind sock was limp. Sandy and I lugged our chairs and I lugged my camera and we staked out a spot near one of the chase trucks. We could see a few balloons being spread out and one purple balloon was starting to inflate. There was a good turnout here already.
Getting around is crucial for the ballooners. They have to go to the pilot’s tent for updates and run around on all sorts of errands as the launch deadline approaches. One enterprising ballooner found a new way to get around quickly… A Segway!
Finally at just about 5 pm we began to hear the whoosh whoosh of the propane tanks firing and balloons began inflating all around us.
The first Balloon to take off was a really pretty purple-blue balloon that had a elongated shape, not the traditional balloon shape. The wind, what there was of it was pushing the balloon in our direction. Perfect positioning.
For some reason the balloon didn’t seem to be gaining altitude. As it passed over the airport terminal building toward the trees we all wonder if it would clear them. It did, but just barely, the bottom of the basket actually scraping the top branches.
Not too much farther on they seemed to give up the fight and down it came. So the first balloon up was also the first balloon down. We heard later that it may have had a leak.
But while our attention was fixed on the purple-blue balloon and it’s troubles, the other ballooners were hard at work.