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SAILBOAT WITHOUT RUDDER: BALLOON

Writer: Yavuz İşçen
August 2004

Economical charts, statistics, graphical indications, founds flow curves and profit calculations; all of a sudden have made me realize that all these studies have a single purpose. What we call business life; is actually nothing other than a well-calculated route and in this sense; producing lives with known ends. In this life, calculating probable results before hand and making necessary investments accordingly seems to be the main condition of success. All of a sudden I feel really bored of all this. I feel like I am in a big prison.
I had to do something different. I just felt like taking off to anywhere. I remembered the hick-hiking trip I had, years ago. I was getting in the car that I waved to and going where ever it took me. Wondering around without a pre-made schedule was really a wonderful feeling. But whatever I feel to day is different; I wanted to fly. I really wanted to fly. I wanted to let go of myself in the wind and float like a feather in the air. It did not matter where I landed. This could not be anything but a dream. Thinking of flying; the first thing that came to my mind was delta wing and parapet. I had never tried these. To be honest, I was not sure whether I could handle it at this age or not. Then I thought of flying with a balloon, but I had no knowledge about balloon. The last balloon I saw was the one that I burst while blowing it at my niece’s birthday. I had to get information on flying with a balloon, as fast as I could. This is how I began my research in flying with a balloon issue.

Towards the place the wind takes you…
After some research, I saw that balloon was just what I was looking for. Once taking off, as you float in the air, you definitely did no know where you were heading to. It all depended on which direction the wind was blowing. The thought of going to where the wind was taking me, really excited me. As you were floating in the air, you had to take the wind behind you as you would do in sailboats, but this time without rudder. The feeling of not having a rudder gave me a strange feeling of freedom. Actually a team called “the ground team” was continuously following the balloon and was trying to take precautions against landing risks. But they could always be subsided by throwing down a sand bag from the balloon. Landing location of the balloon was uncertain. I think that uncertain landing location brings out the beauty of route taken. Consequently, you can strip yourself from the feeling of reaching a location and really make the most of flying.

The inventors of balloon
One of the first physics laws found was gravity force. Dear Newton had found this after an apple that felt on his head while sitting at the bottom of an apple tree. Please do not confuse him with the person who found the floating power of water while having a bath. According to this law, an object had to overcome the gravity in order to fly. If you could not overcome gravity with engine power the only choice was to be lighter than air.
This was the main idea of balloon inventors. The French Joseph and Etienne Montgolfier Brothers, found that hot air is lighter than cold air and that a balloon filled with hot air could fly. After many experiments, in year 1783, they managed to fly the first hot air balloon. This balloon was recorded in history as the first object flown by mankind. You would better this down, in case you get this question asked in “who would like to win 500.000.000TL” competition. The Montgolfier Brothers than designed a balloon that they could travel in and became the first man to fly.


Balloon for grown ups not for babies
The technology of balloon has definitely changed since the Montgolfier Brothers. But the main idea and logic of the work has been the same. The main frame of the balloon is made of fire resistant and durable material. This section is generally filled with hot air and flying is made possible. The hole at the top of the body whose opening is controlled by ropes at the bottom, allows control of pressure in the balloon. Hence, in case of descending of landing this hole is opened in accordance. Hot air balloons generally fly at heights between 500-1500m. Due to flying risks at an air temperature of 28C and severe wind most of the touristy flights are done during early morning hours when the weather is cool and without wind.
At various heights of the atmosphere, the winds can blow in various directions. The pilot directing the balloon has the chance of getting a wind towards the direction he wants to go to. This is why wind speed and directions must be acknowledged before flight. Even the most experienced pilots cannot fully control hot air balloons. A certain certificate, which is in the place of driver’s license, is required to be a balloon pilot. This certificate is given to the people who complete the course held by the Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK).       

Types of balloons
Balloons; considering the type of gas used in the filling, are divided into three groups. The most used are called hot air balloons. In order to fly these balloons; the burner above the basket is lit to heat the air inside. Propane gas is used in the heating process. Hot air balloons can stay on air for about three hours. Other balloons are called gas balloons. These types of balloons can stay on air for a long time. There is a third type of balloon called Rozier, which is produced as a combination of hot air and gas balloons.
There is a basket at the bottom of the balloon for passengers. The gas tank and burner used in the heating of air takes places at the top of the basket. The basket can be designed to carry four to twenty people. In the basket there is an altimeter to determine the altitude, variometer to determine the climbing angle and pyrometer to determine the internal temperature. There is also a radio to ensure communication of the balloon pilot with the ground team. Consequently, if the balloon wonders off to another continent; the ground team can be responsible for getting in touch with your relatives.

Balloon operating in Turkey
The first hot air balloon has been brought to Turkey by Turkish Aeronautical Association (THK) in year 1985. This society, which is mostly heard of in sacrifice feast times; also gives balloon flying courses and pilot certificates. This certificate can be obtained by attending courses which are organized from time to time by this society. Besides attendance is for free. But do not think that it is all so easy to attend to these courses because the minute you seen the required documents and the conditions; you will consider yourself as one of the 10.000 people to sit an exam to become a government employee. As a matter of fact, you might change your ideas about flying and going back to your ordinary life could be a bright idea. But still do not loose all hope, your application can be accepted after a donation of a billion TL or more. Don’t say I haven’t said it.
Balloon operating in Turkey is mostly done for tourism purposes. Touristy balloon flight organizations are done over; Cappadocia, Antalya and Pamukkale. A part from these; some private establishments performs flights for advertisement purposes.


Balloon operating in Cappadocia
One of the most popular regions for tourism purposes balloon operating is Cappadocia. We can say that it is indeed a pleasure to see this beautiful region from high above. Customers of these balloon tours are mostly foreigners. Companies, which organize balloon tours, pick up their customers from their hotels, at early morning. Breakfast and tea are served while the balloon is filled then the flight begins. Balloon flights can take 45 min. up to an hour and a half. Flight prices change in accordance with the preferred flight duration. Champagne is served after landing and the customers are taken back to their hotels. Kapadokya Balloons and Göreme Balloons are two major balloon tour-organizing companies.

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Reading Reading: 3410 Eklenme Tarihi Date: 2010-01-19
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