Thursday, October 15, 2015

MOM RIDES IN A HOT AIR BALLOON

Mom has always wanted to go for a ride in a hot air balloon, and Tuesday she finally did it!  It is kind of expensive to buy a ticket for a balloon ride, and Mom wants me to tell everybody that she bought the ticket back when she actually had a part-time job and was making a little money.  Also, she used a Groupon.  The company that does the balloon rides is called Old World Balloonery.  There are probably some other companies around here, but that was the closest one, so that's the one Mom used.

Mom's group of balloonists.  The pilot (in front) took this selfie.
Mom is in the back, with the blue shirt.
After Mom got her ticket, she didn't make a reservation right away because she was sort of savoring the fact that she had the ticket.  And then when she did make a reservation, she kept getting rescheduled because there was too much wind or whatever.  She got rescheduled 5 times, but finally she got to fly on Tuesday.  It's a good thing she was able to go then because her ticket was supposed to expire on November 1.

Anyhow, the way the ride went was that everybody met at the Johnson County Executive Airport, which is a place for small, private planes.  Then they all got in a van and drove about 10 minutes to where the balloon was going to be launched.  And the place chosen for the launch turned out to be near The Great Mall of the Great Plains, which used to be a very busy mall where lots of people went to shop.  But now it is just a ghost mall, with only Burlington Coat Factory still open.


So in a field near the mall, the balloon got blown up and launched.  First, the crew unrolled the balloon and opened it up.  Then they started some fans so that it would get filled with air.


After that, they turned on the hot air burner, which made the balloon start wanting to go up.  Then all the passengers had to climb into the basket one by one, very quickly, when the pilot told them to.  There are holes in the side of the basket where you put your feet to climb, but Mom said it was kind of hard for people with short legs, like herself.


When everybody was in and situated so that the weight was mostly even, the crew unfastened the balloon, and it took off.  It was lots smoother than taking off in an airplane, or at least that's what Mom told me.  The only part she didn't like was how noisy the burner was.  Almost every time it came on, Mom jumped because she was busy looking at the scenery, and she didn't expect it.  Also, it was hot being so close to the burner, but there was no way to get farther away from it.  The balloon had 6 passengers plus the pilot, which was all it would hold, so you just had to stand still in one place.


The scenery in the area where the balloon was flying was not really very special.  If you looked very hard, you could see downtown Kansas City, but mostly all you could see was an industrial part of Olathe.


First they flew over The Great Mall of the Great Plains.  I think it is a shame this mall has become so abandoned and will probably be torn down, because its name is lots of fun to say.


Another thing they saw was a train.


At Olathe South High School, football practice was going on.


The highest the balloon went was 2,200 feet.  It flew very slowly, or that's what Mom said it felt like. After 45 minutes, they finally got back to the airport where they had started from in the van.  As they started getting closer to the ground, they went over a bunch of houses, and all the dogs were barking. Mom was pretty sure they were barking at the balloon and at the sound of the burners.


When they landed, the basket hit the ground and bounced several times.  Everybody had to hold on in two places and keep their knees bent.  And even when they did that, they all piled into each other.  The ground crew grabbed the basket and held it down while the passengers climbed out.  As each person got out, he or she had to help hold the basket down.  Finally, as the air in the balloon started cooling down, it gradually collapsed.

While the crew were getting the air out of the balloon and rolling it up, the balloonists had champagne, crackers and cheese, and chips and salsa.  It seems to be a tradition to have champagne to celebrate a person's first balloon ride.  Personally, I would have been more interested in the cheese than in the champagne.


Mom did not stay a long time to chat because she had started feeling guilty -- finally! -- about leaving all of us dogs and cats at home with no supper.  By the time she got back here, it was TWO HOURS past our supper time!

I thought maybe I should have got to go on the balloon ride, but Mom said I wouldn't have liked it because of the hot, noisy burner.  Also, I might have fallen out of one of those holes that people use to climb in and out of the basket.  Well, I wouldn't want that to happen, so I've decided it was better just to stay home and have a late supper!

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