Saturday, November 18, 2006

Flying High...


I have been so blessed to be able to experience so many wonderful things during my time here at CBS46. I have gotten to take off and land on an aircraft carrier in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, I have gotten to ride in our station's helicopter, and last Friday I was able to fly in a hot air balloon. You can see my story by clicking here.

The reason why I was invited to ride in the hot air balloon was because a new development up in Forsyth County was opening up and they were celebrating with a balloon glow and race. Hot air balloons are so cool because of the way they operate. I use hot air balloons to illustrate some of the principles of weather when I speak to kids. Warm air rises, and cold air sinks.

I went with our overnight photographer Mark Melvin since we had to be in Forsyth at 6am!!! Hot air balloons are best to ride in early in the morning or early in the evening because the atmosphere is most stable at those times of day. We ended up with a perfect morning for flying... or should I say floating?

Our pilot's name was Gary Zielinski and he has been a hot air balloon pilot for about 15 years. Some of those years it was his full time job while now he mainly does it for a hobby. I could not get over how smooth and peaceful the flight was. We literally floated a little above the treetops and below a thin layer of clouds. It was so cool to see people come out of their homes in their robes to wave!!!

When it comes to landing, the location is everything. Once we decided it was about time to land we needed to find a suitable place where the chase team could get to to load the balloon back up. Our first location we saw was pretty nice, but because of the winds we were a little too close to some trees that could have damaged the balloon. We had to float along for another 5 minutes or so until we found a spot near a subdivision. We had to make sure we floated over some power lines before gently coming back to earth. I can not imagine what the reaction was of cars and school buses as they passed by. We literally landed on the right of way next to a road! Gary was a great pilot needless to say!!

The whole experience was amazing needless to say. If you every get the opportunity to fly in a balloon I highly recommend it. Keep in mind that where you go and how the balloon flies is all about the weather!

Have a great Thanksgiving!!


--Chris

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