Posts Tagged ‘Alberto Santos-Dumont.’

 “The balloon seems to stand still in the air while the earth flies past underneath.” – Alberto Santos-Dumont.

The two balloons behind us as we made our way over the Serengeti. -- Photo by Pat Bean

African Safari: Moving with the Wind

Kim and I were up well before dawn this day. We were going ballooning over the Serengeti. It was one of the costly extras not included in our already expensive African Safari package. So, foolishly, or wisely, depending on how you consider these things, we signed up for the adventure.

One large elephant trumpeted in unison with the whoosh of flames that lifted our balloon higher. -- Photo by Kim Perrin

I, as did Kim, knew that if we didn’t do it we would probably suffer regrets for passing up the rare experience for the rest of our lives. It took me until about 40 to realize that I had a lot more regrets for things I hadn’t done than for any things I had done. And I had remembered the lesson well.

The balloons were still being blown up when we arrived at the take-off field, and we got a briefing from Captain Neal, who would pilot our balloon, one of three going up this day. I thought him kind of cocky, but then I’ve never met a pilot who wasn’t.

Having survived our windy landing, and with smiles all around, we pose for a group photo we will receive as a souvenir.

Perhaps they need to be to have the necessary confidence to believe they can fly without wings.

It was still fairly dark when we took off. So when the flames roared to give the balloons an extra burst of hot air to keep them aloft, they took on a colorful glow in the gray morning light. It started the day like a fairy tale, and images of the hot air balloon in “Around the World in 80 Days” flashed through my head.

Our balloon flew low over the landscape, passing over a small herd of elephants. At the whoosh of flames as Captain Neal turned up the burner to take us up a bit higher, one of the larger elephants looked up at us and trumpeted.

To celebrate our successful hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti, we are all treated to a champagne breakfast. -- Photo by Pat Bean

The wind was fairly brisk this morning, and not only did we arrive at our destination more quickly than normal, we overshot the landing site. And then when it landed, the wing dragged the basket a way and then it tipped over.

All was well, however, and we posed for a group picture before crowding into a land rover to be taken back to the landing site, where a champagne breakfast had been set up for us.’

What a fantastic morning. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.

Le Figaro said it best in 1908: “I have known today a magnificent intoxication. I have learnt how feels to be a bird. I have flown .. I am still astonished at it, still deeply moved.”

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