Balloon over Home

Waiting for the Whooooosh

Whoosh….whoosh. Taking out the garbage Monday evening, July 15th, 2019 I heard the unmistakable sound of a liquid propane burner. As the propane is gasified and ignited, the flame and exhaust are directed into the balloon, all under control of the human operator. What a sound!!

These past years, hot air balloons started launching from West Hill and, when the breeze (balloons never launch in winds, as far as I know) is right the balloon and gondola full of passengers drift in the direction of our home. More than one time, directly overhead, I estimate 200 feet away. We could clearly see and converse with the passengers. What fun.

Each previous viewing I regretted not filming the balloon as the vision floated away. Last Monday, I dropped everything (not literally, I did leave the garbage in the bin), mounted the Canon lens EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6L IS USM on a EOS 1Ds Mark III body, returning to the north side of our property as the balloon emerged from the trees, only the envelope visible.

We have enjoyed this balloon before, the envelope pattern evokes a classic Navajo Rug, the colors really pop against the blue sky.

Why the Whooooosh?

Tourists and local residents pay $230 per person for the experience of floating silently over Finger Lakes landscape with a launch from Trumansburg, ending up over Ithaca, in its valley surrounded by hills. Cayuga Lake is visible the entire flight, to the east, then northeast as the path reaches Ithaca. As they approached the balloon elevation was not so high relative to our home. You can see this clearly in the first photograph. With the zoom on 300 mm I was almost able to look into the basket, each of the four riders (the operation, looking at a cell phone, and three passengers) was recognizable.

There are three propane burners, two in front and the edge of a third just visible between the front pair.

Ethereal silence and reveres are broken when the burner lights up. Here it appears only one burner is running, sending the craft high above us.

Seven of the forty images are shared here. The duration was three minutes. With a goal of capturing the action, I had the camera on burst mode, with the shutter pressed the exposures run serially, in close succession.

I perfected these seven photographs to represent the perfection of this colorful event as it passed from the northwest, disappearing in the tree line to the southeast.

I am listening for the next event, camera and lens ready.

Post script….it was my usual early morning blogging time when I heard the familiar Whooooosshh, whoooosssshhh, grabbed my IPhone for a video and captured the following. You will hear the gondola occupants chatting. The burner was turned on at 1:03 when the balloon was fairly distant. The Whoooosssshhhh is low, but audible.

Today, they were headed North/Northwest in the opposite direction from Monday and are backlit. Enjoy!!

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

37 thoughts on “Balloon over Home

  1. Those are fine photos. We have a small balloon festival here each year, and it’s great fun to watch them rise up. It’s not something I’d be inclined to do, but I do like the sight of the balloons.

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    1. I am with you on that one. I’d need to have 1,000% confidence in the operator. It would be thrilling to experience the view of the lake. We can got to the Johnson Museum at Cornell University for a great view of the lake, but that would be better. If I had a good video camera I’d consider it.

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  2. I have not flown in a hot air balloon but I have been sky diving. When the chute opens it seems there is a profound silence compared to the 200-mph preliminary free-fall. The balloons are beautiful though. Very colorful.

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  3. How wonderful that you were able to capture these photos, Michael Stephen. I loved seeing this series of photos, and your descriptions did a good job of sharing the immediacy of witnessing such a short-lived event taking place right over your head, and the distinctive sound of a hot air balloon as well. I liked the video too, especially the rooster. Truly a delight here, thank you.

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  4. Great series of photographs! These remind me of watching a few balloons sail over daughter’s house a few years ago. We could hear the “whoose” as the burners kept the balloon on a steady elevation. Sadly, the daughter and her family moved to a different neighborhood, which isn’t in the flight path of the balloons.

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    1. great memories…..better than being on the flight path of a major airport like we were, growing up on Long Island. It was fun to watch the SST’s (supersonic transports) come in when they were the latest wave of the future.

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  5. How lucky to have that experience more than once. The one time I saw one in the hood was about 40 years ago. One of these years I’d like to try the passenger’s view.

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  6. Up up and away! Michael, stunning images of the close passing of the balloon flight! You capture the ethereal silence beautifully both in your photos and your writing – before the loud whoosh. Have you ever been up yourself on one of the trips?

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  7. How remarkable that this happens right over your roof top and yard! Your photos are spectacular and I really enjoyed all the birds the chattering occupants – and the rooster! – in the background of your video!

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