The early Hot Air Balloons used a basket of burning coal placed under the balloon as the heat source to lift the balloon into the sky. Today, the heat source is far more sophisticated utilizing powerful propane gas burners.
A group of balloonists had gathered in a stubble corn field on the banks of the beautiful River Suir on the outskirts of the Viking City of Waterford in the south eastern corner of Ireland to assess the suitability of a balloon ascent.
Wind speed, altitude, air pressures, wind direction, knots were buzz words as the pilots and crews plotted the course on detailed maps of the small helium filled balloon that had been released to assess the conditions and wind movement high above the ground to see where the wind would possibly take them if they took to the air.
Then, it was all go. Balloons were unpacked from the trailers pilots and crews were busy, busy. You don’t realize the size of these balloons until you see them spread out on the grass as they are prepared for inflation.
The drone of fans blowing cold air into the balloon to begin the inflation process disturbs the quiet surrounds of the stubble field. The balloon becomes even larger creating a carnival of colour and lively activity. At a point when the balloon (the pocket) is reasonably full, the gas burners, with their distinctive roar, take over the roll, shooting two and a half million BTU’s of heat into the balloon cavity to finalise the inflation. In no time at all, the balloons are upright, swaying to and fro in the gentle breeze, poised and ready to take off.