It is always a beautiful sight to see hot-air balloons launch in a rainbow of colors into the sky. Saturday morning in Helen, Georgia, this was definitely the case. We watched the crews lay the balloons out then use a big fan to blow air in and then the burners to heat the air and make it float. They don’t all lift off at the same time but drift up one or two at a time for a great scene.
This is also a sport that is very dependent on the weather. Each time there is a balloon launch, there is a distinct possibility that it won’t happen. As a member of one of the crews told me, it’s kind of a Goldilocks type thing. Not too hot or too cold, not too windy or too calm or it is a No Go. On this morning, things were pretty good but the wind was on the very light side. If they had been launching for the race, it probably would not have gone off.
The race that is the center of this annual balloon festival is a unique event. The balloons launch from the city of Helen in the North Georgia mountains, bound for the Atlantic Coast. There is no pre-determined end location but the finish line is Interstate Highway 95 (I-95) that runs all along the east coast of the US. The shortest possible distance is 225 miles away but, technically, the finish line could be crossed anywhere from Maine to Florida.
44th Annual Helen to the Atlantic Balloon Race & Festival
Helen, Georgia, USA
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/10 – 1/60 sec – ISO 200