The Canberra Balloon Fiesta has been in full swing from 7 March to 15 MArch (today). For the past week we have had several balloons of all shapes and sizes pass overhead in the morning on their way to a landing in the wildlife corridor at the end of our street.
So this morning we decided to check out the launch site on the lawns of Old Parliament House next to the lake.
It was still dark as we parked and found several hundred people getting an early morning coffee and preparing to go into the marquee labeled “Pilots Briefing” This is so that pilots can get an up to date brief on the weather and wind patterns, and likely landing spots enroute. Everywhere there was an air of expectation.
There would have been at least a dozen balloons neatly stashed on trailers ready to be filled from small petrol driven fans and, people were struggling under the weight of large propane cylinders. The thunderstorm last night had cleared the air and as the sky began to lighten it was perfectly cloudless.
I took a couple of photos of the waiting balloons and of Old Parliament House.
A band set up to play, and then came the announcement that the winds were running in the wrong direction and – perhaps worse – the ground was too wet. This would not necessarily have been an issue for take-off, but for landing, as the balloon envelope needs to be laid out flat along the ground and then rolled and folded to fit back into the trailer. As this was the end of the festival – that would mean putting away a wet envelope, perhaps for a month or two before the next flight, which would mean that mildew could cause damage to the stitching or the sail-cloth fabric and render the balloon unsafe for next time. So flying operations were cancelled.
The crowd was understanding and they continued to soak up the festival atmosphere and the cameraderie of fellow enthusiasts as we departed. Next year’s Balloon Fiesta will be from March 6-14 in Canberra, Australia.