International de Montgolfières
@ Saint Jean sur Richelieu, Quebec, Canada.
We had been lying on the grass for some long minutes, waiting for the green light from the Balloon masters so we could see the hot-air balloon take off.
It was our second attempt at seeing the hot-air balloons fly The day before we decided to go to the festival, just checking if the weather in Saint-Jean de Richelieu was alright and as it was, we went. It appears that in order to take off, there are several meteorological conditions needed. The first one we learned that day was that there must not be any storm cell in a radius of 100km around the take off spot… Good thing is (if we can see a good thing in this situation) was that they gave us back another ticket to come back the day after or the year after. In facts, it was the last week end of the festival.
So here we were again. Decided at the last minute after checking the storm cells, the wind and other parameters this time. The weather seemed perfect for a flight, not too much wind (around 12 knots (12 Noeuds)), or so we thought.
Lying on the grass since 6:15PM, we listened to the commentator say that the winds were too strong but slowly calming down. Lesson number two when you want to see (or do) hot-air balloon is that the wind on the ground must be less than 8 knots to allow a take off.
For us it didn’t seemed to be that much wind happening but apparently for the balloons it was too much. The rest of the sky was perfect otherwise. No clouds anywhere around, the sun setting slowly, putting a golden light in the sky and making the wait much more enjoyable.
We prayed for the wind to calm quickly because the last timeframe they could go for a flight was at 7:15PM. At 6:58PM they still didn’t have the green light to go. I was starting to think it was not going to happen (at least this year), when suddenly, five minutes later, the commentator said in a very exiting voice that 10 pilots had the green light to go and if everything was fine with them, all the others could fly until it was too late.
Suddenly, everyone got up, cheering the good news and looking at the balloons that were starting to get inflated.
What a show. In less than five minutes, three hot-air balloon were up in the orange-pinkish sky.
I had never seen that many hot-air balloon take off at the same time before. It was incredible. I had in my mind the balloons from Bagan (Myanmar) and I knew it was not going to be the same but I was definitely not disappointed. I hope one day I will get to see the one in Bagan because I bet that would be magical too.
In fifteen minutes, all the balloons that were quick enough to inflate were gone and disappearing at the horizon as the same time as the sun.
The festival doesn’t end to the hot-air balloon. There is tons of playgrounds for kids, and for adults. Like a race in inflatable games that was quite fun to do! There is also a music scene with concerts every night.
I would recommend to go even just for watching the balloons fly. I am going to tell you again the recommandations in order to make sure the balloons are flying.
1) Check on the Facebook of the event or on the site
2) Check the weather 100km around if there is any chance of rain or thunder
3) Check that the wind in the take off spot is less than 8 knots
4) Check the humidity in the air (if it is too humid, they won’t go either).
That should do it (in theory).
Have you been to Saint-Jean de Richelieu or Bagan or Albuquerque? How was it?