Flying High at Hillsborough Balloon Festival

Every July colorful balloons float above the Contoocook River Valley.  This year the fun begins on Thursday July 6 and runs through Sunday July 9.  There is something for everyone with carnival rides, fireworks, a 5K road race and a Hometown Parade on Sunday.  But the stars of the show are the balloons.

Rising above the earth in a hot air balloon was one of the first ways man took flight.   It is how the wizard got to Oz.  Many people have a balloon ride on their bucket list but before you climb in the basket, read on and learn how a balloon flies.  It’s a very basic principle: Hot air rises and cold air sinks.  The burner fires up and creates hot air in the balloon (envelop) pushing it up, keeping the balloon floating.   The envelope is the colorful fabric bag that holds the hot air. This is the eye-catching orb we see floating through the sky.The pilot needs to be knowledgeable about weather and wind conditions.  Before the balloon is launched, the pilot knows which way the wind is blowing so he knows which way the balloon will go. The air is in layers, and the different layers may be moving in different directions. So even though the pilot can’t steer the balloon, he can move up and down to find a layer of air that will allow the balloon to change direction.  To descend, the pilot allows the air to cool and the balloon becomes heavier than air. It is true that the pilot doesn’t know where the balloon will land ahead of time, but that doesn’t mean hecan’t control the landing!

To learn more about how balloons fly or to book your ride at the Hillsborough Balloon Fest, please visit the fair’s web site.  There are several members of the New Hampshire Bed and Breakfast Association who are ready to host your ballooning weekend.  Ask your innkeeper host how to make the most of the fair and your visit to our beautiful region.

Photos by Karen Booth

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