As a surprise for my wife’s Birthday during a road trip through Europe I arranged a private hot air balloon trip in Vienna, Austria.
I was lucky enough to contact one of the top hot air balloon pilots in the world, Josef Huber, who was in fact a test pilot for hot air balloons so obviously well qualified for the trip. Josef regularly tested hot air balloons to determine their operating envelope prior to final delivery so was well used to taking these balloons to their limits. Luckily on our trip we did not go the the edge of the operating envelope!
We met up with Josef and his wife on the outskirts of Vienna and then drove to a wide open meadow where he prepared the balloon and basket prior to take off. I laughed when he produced a small yellow balloon, but this was simply being used to test the wind direction and strength.
The propane burners were attached to the frame over the basket and we then started to fill the balloon with hot air facilitating its slow rise into the air above the basket. Once everything was set my wife and I jumped quickly into the basket and it was ready for lift off. The slow and silent rise into the sky above the Viennese countryside was majestic giving us a totally different perspective than you get with any other form of flight.
Our expert pilot took us up to about 4,000 ft giving us an excellent view over the countryside below. It was wonderful to be able to fly silently over the ground allowing us to hear vehicles, people and animals on the ground below us.
As we drifted south Josef kept in touch with his wife on the ground who was driving the support vehicle. With the aid of a GPS and maps he could tell exactly where he was. I asked him at this stage where we planned to land and he simply shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know! We were of course entirely at the mercy if the prevailing winds and could only control either our rate if ascent or descent.
As we headed south over a large motorway Josef spotted an ideal field for landing so he prepared the balloon for descent and asked us to get ready. The landing in the corn field was a gentle and controlled event and within minutes his wife in the support vehicle with trailer was there to collect us.
After our successful first hot air balloon trip we were initiated with the traditional champagne toast poured over our head in the middle of the corn field. A wonderful end to an incredible experience. We were also presented with our official ballooning certificates.
Passionate Photographer …. Lost in Asia
Stuart Taylor of HighlanderImages Photography has been making images for over 25 years and can offer a diverse range of photo imaging services with a focus on Asia and a documentary/photojournalistic style. These services include planning and executing a photo shoot on location but importantly all the post-processing and image preparation needed for the specific finished media format required by the customer. Stuart’s experience and knowledge in all of these aspects makes HighlanderImages Photography a one-stop-shop for a comprehensive and professional image production service.
Stuart can be available for a variety individual assignments or projects and he specialises in areas such as photojournalism, commercial, architectural, real estate, industrial, interior design, corporate, urbex, adventure, wilderness and travel photography. Stuart can also offer some innovative and advanced techniques such as HDR (High Dynamic Range) and Panoramic Photography.
Final image products can be delivered as high resolution images, prints, books, multimedia slideshows, videos and DVDs. Images from this website can be purchased as prints in a variety of sizes and media, as gift items or as digital downloads.