Ballooning In Sedona, Arizona

In August 2005 we took our first balloon ride outside of Sedona, Arizona. We had an early morning flight when the winds are calmest. Our particular balloon held six passengers and our pilot. The balloon company we used had four balloon flights that morning. En-route to the staging area, we asked our pilot how many years of experience he had. Our pilot observed that was a very good question to ask while on the ground, and surprisingly enough, often asked by passengers once in flight, 1,000 feet above Earth!

(s = 35mm, m=6x7 Medium Format, l=4x5 Large Format)

A balloon being set-up. A large gas powered fan was used to initially shape the balloon. (d)

 

 

A ground crew member attending to the balloon's set-up. (d)

 

 

Once the balloon had sufficient shape, hot air was used to develop lift. (d)

 

 

Our ascent was so smooth that while taking this picture I barely realized how rapidly we were climbing.
Our pilot indicated our balloon can rise up to about 2,000 feet per minute. This is very fast. By comparison,
a small Cessna single engine plane will typically rise about 550 feet per minute. (d)

 

 

We are now immediately above the next balloon to launch, below. (d)

 

 

 

This picture shows the conflagation that is felt immediately above your head when the pilot
engages the 'throttle'. You can feel significant heat on your head. (d)

 

 

Now airborne, we see two other balloons that launched after us. (d)

 

 

The pilot engages the flames above us. (d)


Sedona can be seen in the distance, as sunrise began. (d)

 

Farther out, a different balloon outfit flies in the distance. (d)

 

We now began to descend into a ravine, where we spotted wildlife moving below us (Mule Dear and Javolinas). (d)

 

We continue our descent as our flight approaches the ground. (d)

 

We land at a private resident's home, who gladly steps out of his backyard to enjoy the morning's events. (d)

The winds have welcomed you with softness,
the sun has blessed you with warm hands.
You have flown so high and so well,
that God has joined you in laughter.
And set you gently back again into the
loving arms of mother earth.

© 2009 John Miranda