Okay, so it’s not a HUGE hot air balloon festival, but one that was still only about 8 minutes from my home. I normally don’t get up at dark-thirty a.m. (I wait until 6), but it was worth going to see them set these 6 story tall balloons on their way!
Parking was almost an issue at the Mansfield Dam park area. The area was already full. When we arrived, they hadn’t yet rolled the actual balloons out, but were testing their burner systems. When the balloons (envelopes) were finally laid out flat on the ground, huge fans “cold inflated” them at the base of the envelope. As soon as the pilots felt there was enough air in the balloon, the burner flame was blasted into the envelope mouth. That built the pressure inside, obviously, and the the balloons stood up. If you were standing at the right point near the balloon, you could feel the heat. The launch crew held the balloons until everybody was in and then they lifted off and headed over to Lake Travis.
(The baskets seem so very small and most didn’t hold more than 3 people. There isn’t really room for any more than that anyway since they have a radio, propane tanks, navigation equipment, etc. on board. If you’re claustrophobic, this probably isn’t a good sport for you. Me, I just have a great fear of heights…)
We left the launch area and drove to the adjacent park. There we watched the balloons over the lake, with many many boats there to view the balloons as well. Several “kissed” the water – actually flew down on it near the boats. They were there for several minutes.
It was a great way to start a weekend.