On Thursday, a fine fall day, numerous hot air balloons from many countries worldwide could be seen up in the air. Saga City (in in the prefecture of the same name) hosted the Saga International Balloon Fiesta.
Aeronauts turned on the burners in their brightly-colored balloons, which were in varying shapes, to reach high altitudes. They waved at those watching, who yelled and cheered them on as the balloons got higher and higher.
This is the 40th such fiesta. The total number of balloons is 121; they come from 16 different countries. The fiesta will continue until its closing on Monday.
In order to stay zeroed in and have a hope of winning in the event’s competitions, the aeronauts must have excellent piloting skills and be highly knowledgeable about wind and its patterns. These competitions are held twice a day; at 7:00 AM and 3:00 PM.
Once in the sky, information is limited. Therefore, aeronauts must maintain radio communication with support staff on the ground. These support staff can give them information about wind and other factors that allows them to steer effectively.
The balloons come in all shapes and sizes. One example is the Disney character “Minion.” There is also a “Night Mooring” event held at night. Music is played, and the balloons’ burners illuminate the envelopes of the balloons.
One spectator, Kamogashira-san, who came from Fukuoka-ken, gushed “Seeing beautiful air balloons really lifted my spirits.”
The schedule of events may change depending on the weather. Both rain and wind could result in delays or even cancellations of events.