Saturday, April 28, 2007

What's it like to fly in a hot-air balloon?

Imagine sailing through the sky, high above, buildings and trees, in perfect peace and quiet. No noisy engines. No smudgy window in your way. No blustery wind blowing in your face. You can't feel or hear the wind because you're traveling in the exact same direction and at the exact same speed it is.

Most balloon envelopes are made of strong, lightweight nylon. They vary in size and shape, but they have to be really, really big to lift even a single person. Most weigh more than an adult man and use more fabric than you'd need to cover a baseball diamond.

The basket is usually made of wicker, which is sturdy but not too stiff. It needs to bend a bit for a soft landing, just like a good jumper bends her legs instead of keeping them stiff and straight when she lands.

When the burner system blasts flames, it makes a noisy whooshing sound, but once the balloon is flying, the burner can be turned off. The air in the envelope will then slowly cool, and the balloon will gradually sink unless the pilot starts the burner again.

To steer, a pilot adds hot air to go up or lets it out to go down, until he finds a breeze blowing in the direction he wants to fly. But no matter which way the wind blows them, balloonists have an amazing bird's-eye view of the world.



Hot Off the Press

Before You Start:

- Fill the iron with water. Plug it in.

- Look at the tag on the collar of your shirt. The tag should tell you what fabric the garment is made of (cotton, polyester, rayon, linen, etc.). Read the ironing instructions on the tag. Then, set the iron to the correct fabric setting.

- Check to see if the iron is hot enough by flicking a little water onto the metal surface. If the surface sizzles, the iron is ready. (NEVER touch the bottom of a hot iron.)

Ironing a Shirt or Blouse

- Unbutton the blouse or shirt, including the sleeves and collar. Lay the garment flat on the ironing board.

- Start ironing at the top of the garment. Begin with the collar. Start at the outer edges and work toward the middle.

- Lay the garment flat on the board so you're looking at its back. Move the iron so you're working along the garment. Keep the surface of the iron on the fabric for only a few seconds, or else your shirt will burn.

- After finishing the back of the garment, work your way along each side of it by gradually rotating the garment to each side of the board.

- Iron the sleeves next. Place the garment on the board so that the sleeve you are ironing is parallel to the board. Firmly press the back and front of each sleeve.

- Hang the shirt or blouse on a hanger until you are ready to put it on.


- leave a hot iron unattended.

- start ironing before an iron is hot enough.

- iron clothes at the wrong temperature setting.

- iron over buttons.

Safety First!

- Never touch the bottom of a hot iron.

- When you pause during your ironing, place the iron so that it's facing up on the board and away from your body.

- When pressing down on an iron, make sure your other hand is a safe distance from the iron.

- Watch out for the cord. It can get caught in the clothes you're ironing or along the edge of the ironing board. It can also get tangled in your legs.

- After finishing, unplug the iron. Never leave an iron plugged in. Let the iron cool before putting it away.

By Alan Roberts