The Cranbury digital Camera Club with permission from the town of Cranbury, New Jersey, USA, and with the assistance of the Cranbury Volunteer Fire Department held the region's first-ever hot air balloon fest on a Saturday evening in mid-August, 2007. Everyone is hoping this will turn into an annual event. [Update, 2010: The club hasn't held a balloon event since this first one.] To read more about the camera club, the volunteer fire department and the town of Cranbury, click on the above links.
There were eight or nine balloons Saturday evening and five more flew Sunday early morning. I flew in one on Saturday evening. There were lots of people with cameras trying to get great shots of all the balloon activities. We kept getting in each other's way, too. I wanted to shoot the inside of a balloon as it lay on its side getting inflated. Lots of times I'd click the shutter, only to find that someone had intruded into the picture. But I did get lots of other good shots, which you'll see below.
Also, I missed the balloon I was supposed to ride in, because someone else got mixed up and got into "my" balloon. So I had to be squeezed into the largest of the balloons there, the Butterfly. Its basket is large enough to squeeze in eight people, counting the pilot and his assistant!
The baskets are woven from wicker, which can be either willow or bamboo. They have padded top and bottom edges, most with leather, but a few had canvas padding. The baskets also have footholds woven into two of the sides. To climb into the basket, you put your feet into these square holes, heave yourself over the top rim and drop down. Getting out, well you just do it the reverse way. It's not a very graceful process. Quite a few of us "seniors" needed some additional shoves.
We had to wait until 6 p.m. for the balloon master to call the FAA for the weather report and a final go-ahead. The FAA needs to know how many balloons will be in the area and probably told them what their maximum height could be. Cranbury is near the flight paths and holding patterns for Newark International Airport. The pilot of my balloon said we'd fly at about 1500 feet. We lifted off at 6:30 and landed at 7:30, having flown only a few miles. If you need to go far in a hurry, a hot air balloon is definitely not the best method of transportation!
The images below are arranged in the order in which I shot them. So you'll go through a whole ride from beginning to end. Please click on the thumbnails to see a larger version.