Hot Air Ballooning In India
As regards soaring high into the sky for getting a wonderful thrill and enjoyment there are several adventure sports like sky diving, paragliding etc. But like any other adventure games these are undertaken with a lot of risk and they demand much skill and adroitness on the part of the flier. Compared to these sports Hot Air Ballooning is a less risky affair and yet it allows people to enjoy an unforgettable experience.
Hot air ballooning was invented by two French brothers – Jacques Etienne Montgolfier and Joseph Michel Montgolfier – when in 1783 they designed and launched a fire balloon 17.37 m high from the quadrangle in the Versailles Palace. Since this was an experimental launch a sheep, a duck and a rooster were packed into this balloon. After flying for eight minutes the balloon safely landed at a place about 3.2 Kms away from the Palace. In those days these balloons were called Montgolfier balloons as an honour for the inventors.
Man first undertook a journey by the hot air balloon when Jean Francois Pilatre de Rozier in company with Marquis d’Arlandes decided to travel by the hot air balloon in the same year. This balloon was propelled by hot air/steam. This happened in the historic city of Paris. The success of this journey started hot air ballooning as an adventure sports.
In India hot air ballooning is still in its nascent stage though it is slowly gaining in popularity within the fraternity of adventure sports lovers. The Balloon Club of India which was formed in New Delhi in 1970 is the main organization which arranges this adventure sports time to time.
For hot air ballooning there are no prescribed requirements for physical fitness. But, generally speaking, pregnant ladies and persons with problems of high blood pressure and cardiac malfunction are strongly advised against travelling in hot air balloons. Persons with acrophobia or fear from heights are also advised to stay clear of such sports. Any person who is mentally and physically strong and fit can undertake this adventure sports easily.
The principal equipment in this sport is the balloon itself. It is made from a specially made fire-resistant material, rip-stop nylon. Other accessories which are required are basket/gondola, altimeter, load tape, ropes made of steel wires, compass, cylinders of butane or propane gas, burners etc. The basket/gondola is hung from below the balloon and is made of tough wicker and is enclosed with a mesh of wire ropes.
Major centres in India
In India hot air ballooning is primarily organized in Delhi. The Balloon Club of India organizes this adventure sports from Safdarjung Airport of Delhi. Every year in November a ‘Balloon Mela’ or rather a balloon fair is held. During this event many competitions and other activities are organized. Major events during this fair are spot-landing race, the hound and hare race and cross-country event.
Sky Waltz Company, a hot air balloon firm approved by the Government of India, conducts tours by hot air balloons over Ranthambore, Udaipur, Jaipur palaces and also over Pushkar, Neemrana, NCR enabling people to have a look over the beautiful places of India from above. Thus, watching the colourful and brightly illuminated decorations of the Mysore city during the Dussera festival from a hot air balloon is a very novel and joyful experience. The difference between watching the celebrations from the ground level and from the top is quite striking. The best time to watch such festivities is during the sunset when the daytime decorations as well as the night illuminations both can be enjoyed simultaneously.
The best season of hot air ballooning is October through March as the day temperature is at that time much less. Due to the cold environment the hot air balloon rises further up and stays for a longer period.
- Hot air ballooning should never be undertaken when there is turbulence in the air. Mild winds are ideal for hot air ballooning.
- Never venture a trip by hot air balloon if the ground wind velocity exceeds eight miles per hour. In such a case the balloon will be pushed over the ground damaging it.
- During decent one should be mindful of wires, spires, electric poles and such other jutting materials. Landing should be only upon a clear ground.
All said and done, one cannot take into account every eventuality however careful one might be. So, it is always better to be mentally strong and stable. After all, without the fear factor the adventure sports won’t be what they are. Such sports offer you a life-time experience to be retold to your future generations with a lot of pride.
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