Red River Balloon Rally

Greetings, friends!

For those of you who may live in the Shreveport-Bossier area, I will begin my apologies now for my erratic driving en route to work over the last week. Though this is highly dangerous and possibly illegal, I have to admit, my head has been in the sky.

If you live in the area, chances are you’ve noticed the hot air balloons flying. Because they’ve been primarily been launching from the grounds of LSU-Shreveport, it has been most common to see them around the south side of town, though I believe they have flown in other areas.

Even if I must apologize for my hazardous driving, my co-workers may be thankful for my elevated mood, because it’s tough to go to work mad when you’re driving beneath hot air balloons!

The original plan was for us to attend the opening ceremonies Friday night and me volunteer as a part of the scoring team on Saturday. Unfortunately, due to bad weather, both of those events were cancelled, so we attended the ceremonies Saturday night. Let me just say, you would have thought I was a six-year-old walking into Disney World for the first time. SO. STINKING’. EXCITED.

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The emcee would announce to the pilots to “All Glow” (seen here) or “Twinkle Birds” where they would turn their burners on and off to produce twinkles across the field.

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After the Balloon Glow, we made our way over to the ridiculously long concession lines to grab a cold drink.

I happened to be standing in line for a good old fashioned concession stand corn dog when the fireworks show began, and since I have been wanting to test my night photography skills, I dragged out my camera and tripod right there between a couple middle aged mamas and a college boy and started snapping away. Thankfully, none of them knew about photography, so what I was doing looked impressive to them. I, on the other hand, knowing only very slightly more, knew I was butchering those shots. So, after many, many attempts, this is the only shot I got worth editing. And well, let’s call it “abstract.”

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After downing two excessively large sweet teas and a couple of exaggerated corn dogs, we made our way over to the concert stage just as Thompson Square made their appearance. Kudos to the those two for a successful married music career. If I could have any super power, I’d only ask for a singing voice, so I could sing with my man.

Though I never took flight this weekend (I think I’m slowly but surely, talking Seth into accompanying me on a hot air balloon ride!), it was quite the experience to see so many balloons up close.

A few fun things we’ve learned about hot air balloon flight this week:

  • Did you know what we call the “balloon,” the colored parachute-like part, is technically termed the envelope?
  • Hot air balloon flight is most commonly in the morning or late evening during hot weather, because in order for the balloon to rise from the ground, the air inside the balloon must be hotter than the air outside the balloon. When temperatures reach into the 100’s as they have during the day here, pilots must heat the balloons’ inner temperatures to 250-300 degrees for them to rise. To avoid those excessive temperatures and fuel waste, they fly in the cooler periods of the day.
  • Wind patterns are also more predictable and stable in the morning and evenings, making for smoother and safer flight.
  • A new hot air balloon could cost $25,000 – $50,000! Just like buying a car, there are many variations, and you can even buy used balloons. Just remember, you get what you pay for.
  • Ballooning takes an entire team of individuals in all stages of pre-flight, flight, and landing.
  • Balloons flown during a rally are typically different than balloons fly for recreational use. Rally balloons are shaped more like a football with a top that is pointed like the bottom. This helps the balloon ascend and descend faster during races.
  • Rallies involve teams testing their ballooning skills in really fun ways. In order to score points, pilots may have to navigate the balloon to certain coordinates and altitude or throw something at a target from the balloon. I even heard one of the competitions was to ring a pole for $$CASH$$!!

Very interesting sport!

So, until next time, I’m going to keep working on my case for companionship when I check off my bucket list item of hot air balloon flight one day…

Happy travels, folks!

Jubilant Jennifer

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