Gone flying

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One of the great pleasures of travel is to see the world from a new perspective, and flying in a hot-air balloon is one of the best ways I know to do that.

This is the oldest form of human flight, invented over 200 years ago in France. Today’s hot-air balloons run on propane, a clean-burning fuel. While they’re not a reliable means of transportation — when you launch, you don’t really know where you’ll end up — they’re a great way to explore. In a hot-air balloon, you can fly low and slow, just above the treetops, and see places you would never see from the road.

This morning my friends Steve and Carol took their first flight, with my pal Noah, an awesomely capable pilot. Zach and I followed in the chase truck, and met them at their landing site — a farmer’s green field, with cows munching nearby, and mist on the pond. We celebrated with champagne and a picnic. If you ever have a chance to go ballooning, I highly recommend it.

(I’ll add though, my standard advice to novice flyers… be sure your pilot is well-qualified and reputable, and that their equipment is all in perfect condition. If you feel at all uncomfortable or doubtful about your pilot’s judgment or competence, don’t go.)