While you are surfing the net you get to know a lot different things you might not have known about before. Some you might have use for, some you file away for future reference, some might trigger something in your brain and you are doing something wholly unrelated to the job you were trying to do on the net in the first place.
While searching for websites related to Jaipur I came across the website of SKYWALTZ, they are on Facebook too, the company is providing hot-air balloon rides around Jaipur.I started reading the information provided there and I was hooked. I just had to go for a hot-air balloon ride. I sent them an email and they fixed the date to fly as 13.3.2010, a Sunday. There were 2 or 3 days to go before Sunday and I started having doubts. So I read some more information available on the net. I found things like in their attempt to fly humans used the hot air balloons first of all.
Montgolfier Brothers made the first hot air balloon which carried the frenchmen Jean-Francois Pilatre de Rozier and Francois Laurent d’Arlandes in 1783 in Paris.
The colorful nylon oval ball is called an envelope and the wicker basket suspended from it is called a gondola-this is where the passengers ride. The envelope can store hot air which when heated some more with burning gas can makes it rise. In India they use LPG.
You can only go up to 10,000 feet without oxygen.
And like all aircraft it needs atmosphere to fly.
It is called an aircraft as soon as it leaves ground.
World altitude record is held by Shri Vijaypath Singhania who took off from Mumbai and landed 240 km away in Panchale setting the record by reaching a hight of 21,027 meters or 68,986 feet on 26 November 2005.
The cost of procuring the equipment and the hassle of getting permissions is such that people opt for buying rides from people like SKYWALTZ.
On the Skywaltz website they have given clipping of previous coverage where correspondents took the ride themselves and then wrote up about it.Their detailed description of the flight & the professionalism of the pilots and the outfit sort of quelled my fears about the flight.
The only issue I could find was about landing the craft. But when the moment came to land, our pilot Mr. Imo Singh from Manipur saw to it that it was not an issue at all. The landing was perfect. We were down in a couple of bumps and bantering with the villagers who had seen our descent and had gathered around the gondola.
In the morning when we reached Amber I saw some people gathered around a couple of huge envelopes which were being inflated in the dry part of the Mawatha. And soon enough the burners were lit and the balloons were standing tall in the morning sky. Somebody provided a step ladder for us to get in the gondola. Besides Mr.I Singh there were seven of us in the gondola. The other balloon was being piloted by Mr.Fernando from Spain and was already in air moving and gaining altitude towards the Amber fort. Mr. I Singh also opened up the burners and removed an empty cylinder of gas from the gondola and we were air borne. The first sights we see are the Amber fort, the Kesar Kyari and then we move on in to the raising sun. There is no anxiety. We are floating in the air the other passengers are exclaiming at the beauty of the Amber Fort bathed in the rays of the raising sun. I am taking pictures of the other balloon and the ground. We move some more in the general direction of the Delhi Jaipur highway . There is a lot of smoke here as there are a lot of brick kilns here. Mr.Imo Singh is providing small nuggets of informations. We move towards an area near a brick kiln which is clear enough to land. Mr Imo Singh asks us to take landing positions and pulls some ropes and we are down with a couple of bumps. The first to arrive are the villagers who want to know where the foreign tourists are from. The site team is right behind and are already preparing to deflate the balloon. Once the balloon in down on a big piece a plastic canvas the step ladder makes an appearance again and we get down. In 5 minutes the driver from the Skywaltz team, who got me to Amber finds me and the other passengers and we are on our way back to Jaipur.Just before leaving the landing site, Mr.Rishi from the Skywaltz team hands over to us our first flight in a Hot air Balloon certificates. These certificates will be cherished for all times to come.
Later on I find out that we had landed some 30-40 km, by road, from Amber about 9 km from Nailla and had to drive through some body’s farm house, in a village to get to a road which would take us back to Jaipur.
“The winds have welcomed you with softness,
The sun has greeted you with it’s warm hands,
You have flown so high and so well,
That God has joined you in laughter,
And set you back gently into
The loving arms of mother Earth.”
The Balloonist’s Prayer by Anon.