Sunday, July 31, 2011

Up, up and away (almost) in Charleville

The list of things that can lure me out of bed in the morning before the time I absolutely have to be up is a short one including the recent royal wedding, bacon and a nice cup of coffee.

And newly added to that list: the prospect of a hot air balloon ride.

A few members of the Australian Air Force and Army were in Charleville Thursday for a community awareness event that included free hot air balloon rides.

The military guys involved stayed at the hotel the night before and invited me and Jen to tag along the next morning.

So, even though I cherish my sleep-in-mornings, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Friday morning, very much looking forward to the experience.

We parked in front of the high school and--after asking a student for directions--we made our way to the footy field.

The kangaroo-adorned baby blue balloon was being pumped with air as we approached. One of the Air Force guys informed me that they would take it up for a test run first.

It was a big effort just to get the basket off the ground, and the balloon had trouble in the air because of the wind.

What feels like a mild breeze on the ground is enough to make a hot air balloon ride too dangerous, given the surface area of a large balloon.

So, no one was able to fly that morning. But, the Army and Air Force team still shared with students the history of aviation and the role of the Australian military today.

And, they let us fire the super cool and super hot burners!

Climbing into the hot air balloon felt like climbing into a huge picnic basket (Yogi Bear would be in Heaven)!

We snapped a few photos but then had to make our way back to Corones for work.

Below: Pyromaniac in the making. I tried my hand at igniting the balloon's flame.

Below: The balloon during the test run.

Below: A public affairs officer for the Air Force takes a photo of Charleville High School students inside the balloon before it was fully inflated.

Sent from my iPod

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