Photos: Kamil Imanbaeva, Balloon Adventures Dubai LLC.
One early morning, when the streets of Dubai were still deserted and deserted, a group of lovers of extreme outdoor activities left the city towards Al Ain, in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. It was from this "garden city" in the desert that one of the main adventures in my life was to begin - balloon flight.
A bit of history
The dream of flying up into the vast expanses of heaven, and looking down at what the Earth looks like from a bird's eye view, has always been one of the most important in the history of mankind. What our ancestors did not come up with to climb up: from the first attempts to create wings and fly with their help from high towers to the launch of paper kites and hang gliders. But the first serious ballooning experiments, which were successful, were performed in Europe at the end of the 18th century.
Among the pioneers of aeronautics, whose names, fortunately, have not sunk into oblivion, but whose scientific achievements have remained unknown or have been questioned for centuries, include Brazilian Bartalameo Lorenzo. True, he is known in the history of aeronautics under the name of the Portuguese priest Lorenzo Guzmao. It was he who, having shown extraordinary abilities in the study of physics and mathematics, in 1709 in Portugal demonstrated to the highest royal nobility a model of an aeronautical apparatus, which was a thin egg-shaped shell with a small brazier suspended under it that heated the air. At the time of the experiment, the model rose to a height of four meters, which led to an indescribable delight of all those present, and also contributed to the implementation of a further project under the beautiful name Passarola, which in Portuguese means “little sparrows”. Unfortunately, history is silent about the work of the inventor and the further implementation of this project, but to this day, Lorenzo Guzmao is the first person who, based on a study of the physical phenomena of nature, was able to identify a real way to fly into the air, and later tried to implement it on practice.
Almost 70 years later, in 1783, in the small French town of Annon, the respected and well-to-do brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, who owned a paper mill, decided to apply their scientific knowledge and presented to the general public a huge ball made of fabric glued with paper for density . A ball with a diameter of more than 10 meters, on which Ad Astra ("To the Stars") was written in huge Latin letters, rose above the market square on June 5, 1783, in the presence of a polished crowd of onlookers. He flew almost under the clouds, a full mile away, and when the warm air in it cooled, he lost lift and slowly descended a kilometer from the launch site. A special protocol, sealed by the signatures of officials and dignitaries, attested to all the details of the experience. So for the first time the brothers Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier, as well as their small town, forever entered the history of the conquest of air and aviation.
In search of adventures
On the way to Al Ain, our instructor and part-time pilot Steve talked about the necessary safety measures when flying in a balloon. It turns out that a hot air balloon can only rise at a certain air temperature, preferably +10 or + 15 ° С. In the UAE, this temperature is usually observed only in the early morning in the winter, and that is why companies that provide people with ballooning services in the Emirates operate daily from October to mid-May.
A huge balloon, which today is one of the largest in the world and can accommodate up to 24 people, was waiting for our group at the green stadium Palm Sports Resort. The bright shell of the ball, sewn from heat-resistant panels with a special coating to ensure air tightness, and a basket with five cells attached to it (two for passengers on the sides and one narrow in the middle for the pilot, over which a special thermal installation is mounted), were truly enormous . After all the passengers went up to the deck of an air unit manufactured in the UK, the pilot released a stream of hot gas into the shell, and we slowly began to climb up over the vast expanses. In fact, in what direction the balloon will fly, sometimes even the pilots themselves do not know, because here everything depends on the direction of the wind. The aircraft, operating on the principle of "lighter than air" and, for information, controlled vertically "up and down", this time flew towards Oman.
We witnessed an amazingly fabulous sunrise, saw beautiful palm plantations, pastures with goats and sheep, sand dunes, nomadic camels, mountain ranges and green oases, and funny pilots all this time shared with us remarkable events from the history of their flights. So, once, they became witnesses, and to some extent the organizers, of a wedding registration in the air, when the bride and groom, representatives of the registry office and a narrow circle of relatives held the wedding ceremony right in the basket of the balloon. And the oldest passenger ever to board, was a tourist from a small European town at the age of 88 years.
The most exciting thing in this whole story is perhaps the return of the ball to Earth. When landing, all passengers need to bend their knees and hold on tightly to the handrails inside the basket, and you need to turn around with your back to the direction of landing. And in no case, when the basket comes in contact with the surface of the earth, you can not jump out of it, because the balloon can by inertia rise back up. True, we landed without any particular difficulties. And on Earth, all of us were solemnly presented with flight certificates and fed a wonderful breakfast, because we set off to conquer the sky at 5 in the morning. Happy and satisfied, we returned to Dubai.
Today, ballooning is the most romantic and popular entertainment in the world. Thrill-seekers should definitely try to swim through the air above the Earth, enjoy the dawn and take a memory picture of the magnificent views of the awakening desert, floating far below.
The editorial board of Russian Emirates magazine thanks Peter Collard, director of Balloon Adventures Dubai LLC, for providing an unforgettable trip.