It’s not a rare occasion, in the stunning Heber Valley, to wake up to beautiful blue skies. Nor is it rare to see beautiful spots of colored balloons soaring through those peaceful mornings. Perhaps you enjoy watching our valley’s hot air balloons glide through the air, or maybe you have a desire to see the valley from above in one of those wicker baskets. Whoever you may be, you can’t deny the intriguing questions these fascinating aircraft bring to mind. So, let’s dive into everything you need to know about hot air balloons and shorten the distance between us.
The Early Risers
The Montgolfier Brothers, of Annonay France, are the inventors to whom we owe our “thank you”. The brothers were fascinated by the sparks floating off the fire burning in their fireplace — it was all the evidence they needed to know that something could rise off the ground with nothing more than heat. The fantasy of floating among the clouds kept their dream alive, in spite of failed attempts. Success did happen though and on September 19, 1783 the brothers publicly demonstrated an unmanned flight that lasted ten minutes. In the same year, French scientist Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier launched the first occupied hot air balloon carrying a sheep, a rooster, and a duck. Eight minutes after takeoff, these barn animals landed becoming the first passengers on a successful hot air balloon ride.
The first manned hot air balloon took flight on a crisp autumn morning in Paris, France on November 21, 1783; the balloon carried two men, Francois Pilatrê de Rozier and Francois Laurent, Marquis of Arlanders. The launch drew nearly half the population of Paris outside to watch the monumental moment. Since then these flights have only become more common, but the same monumental feeling comes from watching them. After that, the flood gates opened to opportunities for this newfound aircraft. Only ten days after the first hot air balloon ride, the first gas balloon was launched by physicist Jacques Alexander Charles and Nicholas Louis Robert — again in Paris. This flight lasted 21/2 hours and covered a distance of 25 miles using hydrogen. 1783 was a busy year full of aerodynamic accomplishments and 139 years later the Montgolfier brother’s idea is still flying high.
Getting Carried Away
Today, hot air ballooning has become a popular pastime for some; a romantic flight for others; and a bucket list adventure for many. Thankfully, on today’s flights, you’re not expected to share your ride with barn animals, but there are a few other things you can expect from a leisurely glide through the sky. You can expect to experience excitement, wonder, awe, and above all — a ton of fun! Ballooning is ideal in the calm and stable air, which in Utah tends to be in the first hours of the morning. This means take-off could be as early as 4 a.m. During those early morning hours, expect your flight to be quite cold, and be sure to dress appropriately. After meeting in the location of your flight, your guide will take you to the launch pad of your beautiful balloon. The average hot air balloon weighs about 800 pounds, but larger commercial balloons can weigh thousands of pounds. Once in the air, it will weigh about 2 1/2 tons. So don’t expect to take off too quickly. After all, everything about a hot air balloon ride is leisure.
While takeoff may be the source for some worries, you may be surprised at how stable your basket is in the air. In fact, it isn’t uncommon for people to not even realize they’ve entered the air. Hot air balloons are the safest way to travel short distances by air so, you can shake your preceding anxieties or worries and enjoy the unparallel experience of flying in a hot air balloon. Safety tests will be performed, as well as a weather watch, to ensure your wellbeing. Your ride will be the perfect mix of an adrenaline-filled adventure and a once in a lifetime experience many only dream of. Don’t let a moment of it float away from you. Before you know it your balloon will be back on the ground and being packed up. You can get your hands in on the action and help the crew put it away, or you can simply sit back and enjoy the view of the elaborate balloon coming down.
Most flights only last an hour, which can fly by if you don’t enjoy the moment while you’re in it. Capture every scene through photographs, or just let your mind capture the beauty of the valley below you. You might even catch a glimpse of your beloved home in a way you never even imagined possible. When it’s all over, and your dreams of flying in a hot air balloon have become your reality, you can celebrate with a toast. A toast to the beauty of the scenes, a toast to the guides who ensured your safety, a toast to the Montgolfier brothers, and a toast to you accomplishing your first hot air balloon ride.
The Sky Is the Limit
Whether you’re feeling like a hot air balloon ride is the adventure you’ve been on the search for, or if you just want to keep admiring them from a distance, hot air balloons are stitched into the beauty of the Heber Valley. Our early mornings wouldn’t be the same without the vibrant colors that dot the blue skies. The sky truly is the limit for these beautiful balloons.
Mark Your Calendar
September 17 & 18 | 2022
Saturday and Sunday morning launch events will take place on the North 40 Playing Fields directly behind Park City’s Treasure Mountain Middle School. autumnaloft.com
Ready to Book Your Flight?
Skywalker Balloon Company
Heber Valley’s local Hot Air Balloon outfitter. skywalker at 801.824.3934
balloons-above.com | 435.645.8787
bigfootballoons.com | 385.285.5899