Balloonatic Rides at Sunrise

This morning I stumbled out of my trailer and was treated to a true delight: The Balloonatics, AKA the Burning Man Balloon Operation (Bi.M.B.O) had rolled into DisOrient  and were filling up a couple dozen enormous brightly colored weather balloons with helium.

That’s a lot of helium….and  I thought to myself, well, this is clearly worth an extended gander. They were planning on giving people rides as soon as they had enough of them filled up. As it turns out, this is a lot harder to do that one might thinks: The balloons are huge, and if the lines get tangled they become unmanageable. But the Balloonatics make short work of it and before long they have 20 balloons filled up and took them out to their staging area to get them ready to fly.

These balloons are actually quite heavy, and most people aren’t used to “heavy” meaning “pulling up” — and the fact that holding the balloon makes you lighter doesn’t help matters.

After getting everything just so, it’s time for Flight #150. A lucky passenger is selected, and some wrangling…

…then it’s time for up, up…

…and awaaaaaaay!

Looks fun, doesn’t it?

Check out that fine white line at the top of the photo above. That line isn’t playa dust in my camera, it’s actually a half-mile long string of balloons. Each balloon has an LED light on it, and at night this string makes some lovely arcs through the night sky. I hopped on my bike to get a little closer and found that the end of the string was attached to a vehicle that was being driven by some friends I’d met after the White Procession last year.

They told me that they were going to try to make a mile-long string of these balloons tonight. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

They’re burning the CORE project pieces tonight, so I’m going to have to dash off to shoot that in a minute. There are more Burning Man 2011 photos up on my flickr stream if you’d like to see some more. Leave a comment if you have any questions and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

I’ll leave you with this image of the Temple of Transition and post more when I can.

About the author: Michael Holden

Michael Holden is a photographer, DJ, engineer and Regional Contact in Seattle, WA. Rites of Passage is his 12th burn. He likes chihuahuas, sushi, open source content management and commerce software and destroying delicate and expensive electronics in a variety of harsh environments. Ask him anything by emailing michael@superpod.com.

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