Balloon hunting

Actually I was prepared for a relaxed evening home and I was already in my pyjamas, when I saw a friend’s post on Facebook: A photo of a balloon hanging over the city of Skellefteå right now.

Some people know, that I’ve been fond of balloons since I was a child. I loved to spot them and when I was older, I was a well-known guest at the gas balloon starting place in Marl-Sinsen. Here I made my first balloon flight with the gas balloon D-KABEL in 1994. Some other balloon flights, mostly with hot-air balloons followed. Since I’ve been living in Northern Sweden this passion fell asleep – there are hardly any balloons flying here.

But back to today. I guess, it took me only three minutes to dress, to check wind direction and speed, to take my binoculars and camera equipment and to get in my car to try to track that balloon. Will I manage to see it?

I was lucky – already in Ursviken I could perceive the hot-air balloon above the trees. At the roundabout I turned right and then, after a while, left again onto the E4 to drive up vitberget – the white mountain for getting a better view. The view was fine, but the balloon not within sight, it was behind that hill. So I turned, got onto the E4 again and headed north. When I approached Boviken I could see the balloon again, it hovered on the left side. I took the next departure in Kåge and tried to come closer. Not easy, when you don’t know all those small ways and gravel paths. But I was extremely lucky, came quite near and could take a photo before the balloon landed.

I continued the gravel path and soon was side by side with the low flying balloon.

I could see the chase vehicle ahead. It continued the path and I followed. The chase vehicle succeeded to find a cross road without any power lines in the balloon’s flying direction. That’s perfect, since the pilot will get the opportunity to land quite near the road, that simplifies the packing of the balloon. I parked my car and waited for the balloon to land.

Wow – I’ve seen some balloon landings, but this was the most incredible one I’ve ever seen! The trailer of the chase vehicle was exactly in the heading of the balloon, which approached the trailer more and more. The surface wind was so weak, that the balloon almost could hover above the trailer, where one of the ground crew and I could clutch the basket and with the pilot’s help drag it down onto the trailer! The pilot has been ballooning for forty years, but never managed such before. Chapeau, P.!

Normally helping hands are very welcome after a balloon has landed, but this was a larger balloon carrying nine passengers, so I could stroll around and for example have a look into the inside of the balloon cover (of course with the Pilot’s permission).

It was great to see a balloon again and to talk to the pilot. Now I’m quite interested in taking a ballon flight here, too. I realised that I already met the Pilot on the Arctic Ballon Adventure in Gällivare in 2012. Today he told me, that this event will take place again in March and now I’ll try to get at least one balloon flight next winter. Keep your fingers crossed for my first arctic winter balloon flight.

Meanwhile the moon rose over the green pastures of Ersmarkbodarna, where the balloon has landed. Another sphere in the sky.

Thank you, Nazia, for your Facebook post! You brought me a fantastic evening!

Now it’s already “tomorrow” – almost one o’clock in the night. Something happened, that I’ve been waiting for for many weeks: It’s dark enough to see the first star! It took some efforts (hint: look up and shake your head to see the tiny changes of lightness), but I could see it: Vega in the constellation Lyra.

6 comments to “Balloon hunting”

  1. Elisabet 2016-07-21 08:13

    I saw a baloon when bicycling home on tuesday night. It was the first time I saw one in Umeå, but my friend said they are a common sight here in summer.

  2. way-up-north 2016-07-21 08:16

    There will be a start today (21.7.), Elisabet. Same balloon and pilot as yesterday.

  3. Santosh Hejmadi 2016-07-21 10:08

    What a lovely post Olaf! I was sitting in the lounge with the windows open, when I heard what sounded like a huge ‘Sigh’ an unusual sound in the sky. And, then I saw it!! A huge balloon within touching distance rising above the trees just outside our house.

    Like you, I dashed to the next window, and then the last one and clicked away until the balloon floated away in the lovely blue sky tinged with the gold of the setting sun. Then, I followed the balloon’s virtual journey through your camera lens and described in your blog :)

    I wish I can get a ride on to this balloon someday. I have been in a glider but never in a balloon! Olaf do you know if there is balloon club here? It would be great to go up and away with some friends during this summer.

  4. way-up-north 2016-07-22 05:58

    Thank you, Santosh, for your lovely comment. Perhaps we can do a balloon trip together some time.

    There’s no balloon club around, but P., the pilot will start in Skellefteå and Umeå again. Season is from May to September.

    There will even be a ballooning event in Gällivare next March. I’m quite wanting to join a balloon flight in winter and consider to join the event next year. What about you ;-)?

  5. Ma HB 2016-07-25 18:28

    Dear Olaf, oh what a happy day for you. I remember exactly, when you were a little boy, sitting in our car and you saw a ballon, you said, we have to follow the ballon “now turn to the right, now to th left and so on” We had to follow!, Long time ago. Yours Ma

  6. way-up-north 2016-07-25 22:26

    Dear Ma HB, exactly! Really a long time ago. Now I have had my car for more than 5 years, but it was the very first balloon I followed round Skellefteå.

Write a comment: