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Above It All: Hot Air Ballooning

Those with No Particular Place to Go, Ballooning is the Only Way to Travel

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For Wright-Smith, the joy of ballooning is teaching new pilots how to get off the ground and fly safely, watching the excitement in their eyes as they learn the sport that's so much a part of her own life.
For many, ballooning is also about the small moments--rising into the air with the sun at dawn, fulfilling the lifelong wish of excited passengers, enjoying the camaraderie of fellow pilots and crew, flying over fields and farms and ranches and backyards and waving to the people below as they look up with faces filled with smiles and wonder.
Perhaps John Gillespie Magee Jr., a 19-year-old American pilot in the Second World War, described ballooning best when he wrote:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds.
Getting Off The Ground
For more information, contact the following sources.
There are more than 150 ballooning festivals in the United States each year, with more worldwide. World Balloon has an excellent events listing at The biggest is the Kodak Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, held Oct.4-12. Contact the KAIBF at: 8309 Washington Place NE, Albuquerque, NM 87113; (1-888) 422-7277. They also have an excellent Website at
There are more than 100 sites on the World Wide Web dedicated to ballooning; go to
The Balloon Federation of America is the source for ballooning information and registrations. Contact: P.O. Box 400, Indianola, IA 50125; (515) 961-8809.
One of the best books on the sport is Ballooning: The Complete Guide to Riding the Winds by Dick Wirth and Jerry Young (Random House, New York, revised
edition 1991, 168pp., $22.50). The bimonthly Ballooning is the BFA's journal; the $45 annual subscription includes a monthly newsletter, Skylines. Contact: P.O. Box 766, Warren, PA 16365. There is also Balloon Life, $30 for 12 issues; 2336 47th Ave. SW, Seattle, WA 98116. --TF
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