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Full of hot air

Last week, while searching through a few of my photographs from a couple of years ago, I realized how much of life we actually forget. There were a few folders with pics I had forgotten about, but one which re-surfaced quickly was a balloon ride I photographed for the Brother Computer Company.

Suddenly, it was vivid in my mind as I relived the adventure. It started very early, somewhere in the Burlington area. When I arrived, there was a great deal of commotion going on. There were three hot air balloons in various stages of inflation and a number of people running around.

I walked toward my client, who explained what we would be shooting. He said I would be going up in a basket with him and The Weather Network’s Chris St. Clair. Mr. St. Clair had just arrived, and we were introduced. He was doing a segment on weather and balloons, which was being filmed from one of the other ‘gasbags’, as they were affectionately known.

We took off, and the adventure began. It was not my first balloon ride, so I had an idea of what to expect. Chris St. Clair waved his arms a few times, but the bulk of his segment would be filmed in a studio later. I was taking pictures as the sun was slowly rising and thoroughly enjoying the peaceful ride.

The wind was quite slow, and we drifted slower than anticipated. We actually began to descend, and suddenly there was uproar between the three pilots. I looked up to make sure there was still gas in the balloon, and all looked well.

With hot air balloons, you cannot control where you land, and we were descending directly toward the green of a prestigious golf course. Balloon #1 landed in the parking lot, #2 was just beside the road, and we were right beside the thirteenth green.

Typically, tradition dictates champagne and strawberries at the end of a balloon ride. However, our pilot ended up handing the entire case of the bubbly to the greenskeeper, who seemed quite irate. I would have shared a picture of his face, but the client told me those photos had better stay hidden.

Overall, it was a memorable experience and makes me chuckle when someone says, ‘I’m just dropping in.’

Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.

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