Saturday, September 19, 2009

Balloon Glow

AS A PRELUDE to today's Great Forest Park Balloon Race, last night was a balloon glow, where racers displayed their grounded airships to the public.

Great Forest Park Balloon Race, at Central Field in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Balloon Glow 1

Great Forest Park Balloon Race, at Central Field in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Balloon Glow 3

Great Forest Park Balloon Race, at Central Field in Forest Park, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Balloon Glow 7

Thousands were in attendance.

Balloon exhibitions have been held in this park for at least a century. But the modern form of hot-air balloons only dates from the first untethered manned flight in 1960 by Paul Edward Yost (1919-2007), who invented a lightweight propane burner which could be carried aloft, and who pioneered much of modern ballooning. Contemporary hot-air balloons are very efficient forms of transportation and can achieve extreme altitudes. Clever use of the varying directions of winds at various altitudes means that these aircraft have a measure of steerability. However, these are not particularly practical, but rather more a visual delight.

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