We have just spent a week flying in the Austrian Alps at the International Balloon Meet in Filzmoos. This year was the 32nd year of the event and we first attended in 1996 and in recent years have made it an annual event.
Flying over the mountains is completely awesome and we are privileged to be able to make long distance flights of four or five hours. The weather was very warm as we drove down with very little snow but as we climbed up into the village it got colder and the winter wonderland appeared.
The weather was fantastic for the first half of the week with blue skies. The second half of the week brought some needed snowfall which meant no ballooning so that was spent skiing and eating gulash soup!
Filzmoos is at 3000 feet and the mountains are high so it means that we carry oxygen for flights above 10000 feet and other equipment including a transponder. Once above 10000 feet we have to stay in communication with Wien Information. We were joined by a couple of Eurofighters doing some practice flying on one of the flights and on our last flight we went upto 15000 feet.
Retrieving is always interesting and a friendly farmer collected the balloon with his tractor and then invited us in to his beautiful house that he had built himself for coffee, beers and cake – a great way to finish a flight!
The week involves some light hearted competition and we were very proud to find we had come second out of 40 competitors by the end of the week. So Tony has another trophy to add to all the others from previous years sitting on his windowsill.
Ballooning is a team sport and so thanks must go to the whole team for making to week successful and great fun – Tony, Sarah, Steve, Sue, Russell and Dave. The new balloon, which had only been flown once since it’s delivery just before Christmas, is a bit bigger than the balloon we normally take to Filzmoos so it meant we could fly with three people in the basket and still take plenty of gas for our long distance flights. We are very pleased with it and are looking forward to flying it over the less mountainous but very beautiful English countryside.