STOW (CBS) – If you’re looking for an adventure with a view, try a hot air balloon ride at sunrise.
We were fortunate to take a trip from Stow early Tuesday with Bob Martel, the pilot for Boston Hot Air Balloon Rides.
Before he took us up on “Celtic Magic,” the hot air balloon had to be put together piece-by-piece, starting with the basket.
After the balloon was removed from its storage bag, it was inflated with cold air to make sure the lines are right, and the cords are attached properly.
Once everything was checked, the hot air lamps were turned on, there was a gentle lift and the balloon lifted off.
The heat makes it rise, so you have to overcome the surrounding temperature to get enough lift.
“All of us as pilots are certified by the F.A.A. And every two years we have to do a bi-annual flight review to make sure we are current on our skills. And every year the balloon has to be inspected just like a fixed wing aircraft,” Martel told WBZ-TV.
Weather is key to a good flight and pilots look at the forecasts to see the winds aloft, surface wind speed and direction, or if there are any thunderstorms.
They must also check in with the F.A.A. to see if there are any flight restrictions. As the wind carried us away, Martel used constant radio communication to figure out a landing spot downwind.
“This is a sport where you have to depend on some people on the ground,” he said.
Those people call themselves “balloon chasers.” Knowing the general direction where the balloon is heading is one key part.
“Helps if you know the area, and a lot of luck,” balloon chaser Penny Mills told WBZ.
New England is one of the most difficult places to find a hot air balloon landing spot because of all the forest and urban areas, but Martel made it look easy as he found a golf course.
After the initial landing, it took a typical few bounces for the ground crew to meet and pull on the basket to keep it down.
Many balloon chasers get hooked on the sport after helping out at festivals, like Mills. Her hobby has even grown to sewing her own balloons.
To find out how to get on a hot air balloon team, become a pilot, or just go for a ride, visit bostonhotairballoonrides.com