Western Spirit Balloon Tours and Events travel blog

Al as PIC with Marty and Jon

Flying in the Alps

Flying through the "CUT"

Is that a landing spot?

The oldest bridge in Switzerland


Al and Marty waiting to get on chair lift to Top

Marty leaving tram - oh yeah!

Crew warming up at the top of the mountain

Pierre, Magali and Jon at Pilot's Dinner

Crew at Pilot's Dinner Top of Mountain

Today, the blog is written by Alan and Marty Danner Today was a great weather day for flying down valley. We launched at 11:45, Jon was kind and handed Alan control as Pilot in Charge. We soon heard the church bells ringing all over the valley at noon. It was beautiful, the sound of the church bells combined with the sounds of the burner in the balloon was as close to heaven as we could imagine. We followed the river towards Montbovon trying to hit the target to score points for the competition, however, the winds did not want us to score any points so they took us way too far north of the target. We continued flying on in hopes of cutting through the valley and making the turn to head towards Gruyeres. Upon exiting the valley, we lost the wind current and became stationary in the sky. No matter what we tried ascending or descending, we could not catch a current to move us any direction. We started scanning for landing sights. All we could see were power line, railroad tracks, rivers, and more power lines. We stayed stationary over some huge power lines for more then 15 minutes. We finally caught a slight breeze back towards the valley and found a SMALL field in between the power lines and the river to try a landing. It was a fast and technical landing, with venting and burning to control our decent. It was Alan's first attempt at a faster then normal landing, whatever normal is... It was a GREAT learning experience with a great instructor that ended well. Thanks to a great crew who were right there to help. (thank-you Roland, our local Swiss crew who was familiar with the area). We flew for 2.25 hours and still had over 30 gallons of fuel remaining. Our exit to highway required us to travel across Switzerland's oldest bridge (according to the plaque that Roland read to us). It was a beautiful covered bridge and the Honda/trailer combo barely fit between it's old timbers (they don't have SUV's here in the valley so our small Honda was max for this old boy!). After we packed up the balloon, we went to lunch in the Boulangerie and had a quick sandwich, after a long flight, everything tasted yummy! After lunch and refueling we came back to the chalet and rested before the big pilot dinner at the top of the mountain. We had to take the gondola and the chair lift up to the pilots dinner on top of the mountain. It was a great dinner, much better then last year. NO FOOD FIGHT!!!! Boy were we relieved. At the end of the night Steve and Jeff decided to sled down the mountain in the DARK!!!. Steve made it ok, he said it was only "slightly terrifying." Jeff was sledding with other balloonists from England...they were going about 40 MPH ( according to Steve) when they crashed into the trees. Jeff is OK, he said it was a blast, but he was going to have to walk the rest of the way down the hill in the worlds warmest tennis shoes, but the ski patrol, Michael, came to his rescue and piggy backed Jeff down the mountain on skis. There is so much snow here in Switzerland this year, everything looks so different. The flying is beautiful and the scenery too. We miss our Richards and Reaka, however, as usual, the people here are fabulous!!!! The other balloonists are incredible and we so love being here.

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