Flying a big balloon…
July 6, 2012
Do our dreams come true? Of course, they do, there is no other way. As kids we wanted to become spacemen or pilots, or to fly a balloon. The second year in a row Gazprom helps people make their dreams about the sky come true, acting as the general sponsor of the 17th International Balloon Meet in Velikiye Luki.
Our next photo essay is about the 17th International Balloon Meet which took place in this cozy Russian town on June 10, 2012.
The Pskov Region, 460 kilometers away from Moscow. Views are just breathtaking.
Velikiye Luki is a city of Military Glory.
Here we go – this is our prize for the patience in anticipation of a miracle. Driving into the town in the early morning, we get everything at once – a balloon carrying the Gazprom logo flies right above our heads.
A constellation of balloons is hovering above the Lovat River. This is just a beginning. By the way, more than 50 people are participating in the Meet this year.
The Meet Director Vladimir Orlov: “The morning flights are some kind of training for the pilots; the take-off is expected tonight if the weather conditions are favorable of course.”
Usually there is a briefing before any flight starts – the weather forecaster together with the Meet managers permit or ban the flights. They are “positive” this time.
Before 6:00pm the pilots need to get the balloons ready, check the outfit and fill the balloons with gas.
This gas vehicle owned by Gazprom Gazenergoset has delivered gas. Balloons use the propane and butane mix to warm the air inside the envelopes. The heated air enables the balloons to fly.
In the central square the Meet participants are waiting for a signal to get moving to the starting point.
There is a concert in the park located near the square.
Amateur groups from Velikiye Luki are on stage.
The audience number is impressive.
Even a heavy rainfall on the previous day hasn’t stopped people from coming into the park to watch the balloons take off.
Mother Nature also greets the upcoming “aeronautical day” with a smile.
In the meantime, a line of participants takes the roads of Velikiye Luki towards the starting point.
Everything is ready for the opening.
Finally, the Meet is officially open.
It’s an easy task to inflate and set the balloon for an experienced pilot.
Firstly, the balloon is laid out, and the basket is raised.
Then, using a specialized fan…
… the balloon is being filled with air.
The balloon needs to be thoroughly “ventilated”.
Subsequently, the air inside the envelope is being heated with specialized burners of the aerostat.
Sergey Vinogradov, one of the best balloonists, is heating up the air inside the balloon.
The warm air makes the balloon go up.
The full-size balloon is comparable to a three-floor house. The envelope weights around 100 kilograms.
Here we go – the balloon is set up.
It is not one of a kind.
Time is getting closer to the take-off and a lot of viewers are gathering around. The altitude gauge seemed to freeze.
And off we go!!!
Excitement – this is the best word to describe what’s happening next.
If you wish, you may have a little chat with the neighbors.
The wind blows from different directions at varying heights. Experienced pilots may use this feature and control the balloon.
Have you made a wish? It’s a good sign if you can see the balloon’s reflection in the water.
It’s a well-known fact that if you are happy – the time is flying. We have to start descending, it’s getting dark.
A pilot’s excellence does matter; we landed safely, just stopped moving and touched the ground.
So, this is it. The only thing left – we have to wait for a support vehicle to pick up the pilot, the passengers and the balloon itself.
The sky gives us a beautiful sunset as a goodbuy present.