June 5th Hot Air Balloon Day

June 5th – Hot Air Balloon Day

Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon? The idea of floating peacefully over the earth in a gentle breeze in no hurry to get anywhere appeals to a lot of people. It has been, ever since the first manned balloon took off on November 11th, 1783. (So how did we get to June? Well… don’t ask me)

simple enough, air is heated by propane tanks in the basket, causing the air to expand in the envelope (the balloon) making it ascend. To make it descend a parachute valve on the top of the balloon, which is attached to a cord in the basket, is opened allowing the air to escape.

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To pilot the balloon is a little more complicated. Air travels in different directions in the atmosphere, you will need to know what level these air drafts are located at to get the balloon to travel in a particular direction. The first hot air balloon was launched by Pilatre De Rozier in 1783 (the “Aerostat Reveillon”). It stayed aloft for 15 minutes with a sheep, duck, and rooster as passengers.

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The 1st manned flight came 2 months later when brothers Joseph and Etieine Montgolfier flew for 20 minutes.

Later, Rozier, used a combination of hot air and hydrogen as he tried to cross the English Channel in a balloon. The balloon blew up killing, Rozier, and ending the experiment.

Frenchman, Jean Pierre Blanchard, and American, John Jeffries, were the first to fly successfully across the English Channel in 1785. In 1932, Auguste Piccard, reached the stratosphere flying in a hot air balloon. Who knows what heights it will reach in the future…

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How to celebrate – Go for a ride in a hot air balloon. Visit Bagan in Myanmar to float over hundredsof ancient stupas.

August 23rd Ride The Wind Day

We don’t often think of the wind unless we are in a storm or a hurricane (Which actually is a storm anyway). We think of it as blowing our roof away, bending trees until they break or taking the hat off our head and sending it to someplace like China where we will never get it back.

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But the wind can be our friend too! When it is a breeze we can go fly kites with our children (Or on our own). You can feel a friendly breeze at the beach or when you ride a motorcycle. And you can forget going anywhere if there is no wind and you are sailing! You’ll just sit there like a bump on a log. (What does that really mean anyway?)

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You can para-sail, fly balloons, blow out candles on a birthday cake… you can try to capture it, dry off in it or break it. (Think about it) It helps you when you drive, if it’s behind you, you can pick up lost time if you are flying

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You can glide, free style, have a bad hair day parachute (If you are into that) pretend you are a bird.  If it wasn’t for the wind, we would never have been discovered in America, or brought here anyway. We would have probably never called Chicago the Windy City or see a cloud float by overhead.

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We owe a lot to the wind. Even those gentle summer breezes we are enjoying right now are the wind. So use it to your advantage, we are able to harness things like the wind today that they could only dream of long ago. It is just another gift given us that we can use to our benefit.

How to celebrate – Go fly a kite! Try hang-gliding. Have some broccoli and create your own wind.