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October 2003 - Nr. 10


The Editor
To the Editor
Antje berichtet
Vienna Connection
Zurich Connection
Toronto Connection
Letzte Kraftanstrengung
KW and Beyond
Filmfest Stories
With Anton Kuerti
Hier O.K. Berlin!
Herwig Wandschneider
German-American Day
Stephen Harper Statement
Essay Contest
Old German Tradition
President Rau's Message
Dick reports...
Sybille reports
Ham Se det jehört?
TSO & Lars Vogt on Piano
TSO: Composer Wanted
TSO - Boris Berezovsky
Dietrich & the Phone
Wins "Golden Shell"
Reubens Returned
Financial Advice
Frauenkirche Unveiled

Emergency Landing ?
…a lot of Hot Air!Headline

by Herwig Wandschneider

Herwig WandschneiderResidents of Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge, like several other Southern Ontario Cities, are familiar with the huge hot-air balloons flying overhead on calm spring, summer and fall mornings and evenings. They are also familiar with the dogs’ barking as the balloons burst into hisses overhead with the fire that heats the air inside the balloon.

Have you ever had the feeling that you would like to fly one, but never had the courage, the time, or the people to join you? It is an experience you will not want to miss, unless of course you have a genuine fear of heights. Be prepared, though, to have to wait for good calm weather with good visibility, preferably sunshine, and winds less than 16 km/h. After having two early morning flights cancelled the night before due to expected poor visibility, we finally made it Friday late afternoon into a gorgeous sunset, moonrise and superb visibility all the way to Toronto.

We were in one of 5 balloons that floated into the Friday evening sunshine, 8 people (plus the pilot) in one basket that may hold 12 passengers, although 8 was great and comfortable. The other 4 balloons that lifted off before us had only 4 passengers in much smaller baskets. Lifting off rapidly from Victoria Park in the open field near the clock tower downtown, you get the sensation that you get too close for comfort to the High Rise Condos, but you drift higher and higher and clear the buildings by a few hundred feet.

Hwy 8 interchange under construction  [photo: Herwig Wandschneider]Once up at 1,000 feet or so, the city and countryside floats by below, quietly and peacefully as you lean over the chest-high basket-wall in the warm late afternoon air to get a good look at the neighbourhoods and fields, golf clubs, buildings, parking lots, and traffic below. The city of Toronto was just visible on the horizon for added effect. We waved and shouted at pedestrians below and they returned the greetings with enthusiasm.

The vertical manoeuvrability of the huge balloon was utterly amazing. The pilot took the bottom of the basket down to the Grand River water level at one point, and just touched the water as we lifted off again and floated over the riverbanks into Cambridge.

3 of the 8 thrilled "adventurers": Werner Bromberg, Paul and Elisabeth WeigelThe wind took the balloon past a school’s soccer field – too distant to make a convenient landing there. And on we went over the city as we drifted lower above the houses. Dusk settled in and it was time to come down, but where? The pilot chose a short narrow drive alongside railway tracks – no train in sight – and came down with elegance some15 feet from the driveway... and on the tracks close to a level crossing with a local street. A small problem: the open railway crossing barrier was in the up position and lodged itself into the balloon. The pilot skilfully lifted the balloon off the barrier (stuck inside the balloon like a needle in a pillow) and thus the basket off the track and then let it down gently again on the driveway clear of all interference with the rails and the crossing.

Crowds of neighbours poured into the driveway, enthusiastic at the excitement among their homes, police arrived and left, a slow train passed eventually as we and the neighbours helped the pilot and his ground crew let the hot air out of this huge 120 foot balloon, rolled it up and stowed it and the basket back into two trailers the ground crew brought to the landing site with them. It was a thrill – the take-off, the quiet float over the cities, river and fields and the landing smack in Cambridge. None of us can wait to do it again, and for that matter, the neighbours, who witnessed the landing and were amazed at the precision and control, wanted to take the ride at the next possible opportunity.

We could not help but smile, when we saw the picture of our balloon in the Cambridge Reporter with the words …"…… emergency landing ……..". (http://www.skywardballoons.com/).


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