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  1. Wrap-up: Up and away

    Sunday, September 25, 2011

    This past week has been the Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championships in Camrose. Over 15 balloons have been filling our skies with colour and wonder, and I've been enjoying the ride.

    A few weeks ago I was able to hitch a media ride with Brant Leatherdale, Jim Cook from the City and Hans Olson, local filmaker and the son of my MLA and landlord. We took a ride over beautiful Camrose.

    The first thing you must know about ballooning is that it's NOT glamorous. I was up at 5:30 for a 7am launch, because you have to launch early before the winds get too crazy. You also have to be aware that you're climbing into a wicker basket (no steps or doors) and that you're 99% likely to land in a field. So my outfit of choice were high-waisted denim pants and sneakers. I was also put to work crewing (Brent was stoked to have so many people at his disposal) as evidenced by this photo.
    Photo from the Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championship Facebook page

    Champagne post-flight is a tradition, and who am I to argue with tradition?
    Photo from the Canadian Hot Air Balloon Championship Facebook page

    I still prefer air craft as my main mode of air transportation, but there's nothing better for taking aerial photos in my opinion. You're low enough that you can still see everything, and since you're in a basket in the open-air, there's no dirty glass to get in the way or to glare.

    Fast forward a few weeks to the actually competition. Yesterday morning the balloons had a few tasks to complete at the Edgeworth Centre and further down the road. I shot them at the Edgeworth and decided to follow them in my car. I'm glad I did.

    (I should explain - A champion is determined by dropping markers on a target. Markers are scored based on how close they get to a target and the person with the most points wins. It's certainly not as easy as it sounds because you have to steer using only the winds; for more detail check out their website or the balloon articles on

    I took more photos but haven't had a chance to upload them. At1 p.m. today they're crowning the winner, so I better get my butt in gear so I can cover it.

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