Weather is always a factor with hot air balloons. If the weather doesn’t cooperate this often means the balloon cannot be launched. Students in Australia found this out the hard way on Wednesday, September 20, 2017.
Students at Ceduna Area School in southern Australia were being treated to a hot air balloon demonstration by the Royal Australian Air Force. While the balloon was supposed to ascend into the sky, weather conditions did not allow this to happen. The demonstration was part of the Royal Australian Air Force’s Regional Engagement Tour of Southern Australia which visits many schools in the region.
Even though the balloon did not take flight, students at the school were able to explore the balloon on the ground. The Royal Australian Air Force explained to the students how the hot air balloon works, highlighting its features. Students were given the opportunity to work the balloon’s burners which supply hot air to the balloon—this was one of the ways students got to experience the balloon (even though it was deflated).
The visit to the school was in conjunction with many stops from the Regional Engagement Tour that encompasses southern Australia. Other stops include Renmark, Port Augusta, Bordertown, and Murray Bridge. The next stop after Ceduna is Clare, which will be the last stop on the tour.
A spokesperson for the Air Force, Sam Wright, talked about hot air balloons. Wright, who is also a squadron leader, said that the hot air balloon that was used was mostly for regional visits in an effort to promote the Air Force. According to Wright, the hot air balloon had been flown once a week. Every couple of months the Air Force visits a different town.
“On a tour, we might go to five or six different schools and do a bunch of free-flying around,” Wright said.
Gary Maxwell, who is a reserve pilot, talked with students about being on the Defense Force and what made him want to join the Air Force. Maxwell was more than happy to help students with understanding a hot air balloon and he led the demonstration of the balloon’s burner.
According to their website, “The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Balloon is conducting a Regional Engagement Tour of South Australia. The Tour will provide an exciting opportunity for members of the public to take a closer look at one of the RAAF’s most popular assets; as well as meet the Balloon’s crew.”
The Royal Air Force’s website discusses balloons, stating, “Hot air balloons are one of the earliest forms of aviation—they were even used for surveillance during World War I. …These visits are an opportunity for members of the community to meet Air Force personnel and also serve to promote the professionalism of the RAAF, introduce young people to aviation and inspire an interest in the Royal Australian Air Force.”
At the bottom of the page, the Air Force does state, “Air Force Balloon demonstrations are always weather dependent and subject to operational requirements. Balloon displays typically take place either early morning or early afternoon.”