Hot air ballooning is the oldest form of human flight, it’s simple and graceful, and remains unique in the world of aviation. I’ve learned a huge amount in my last two and a half weeks in hot air balloon school here in Albuquerque. I still have a lot to learn, and I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of balloon pilots and crew bubbling with passion and knowledge. During my time here, my mother and aunt came out to visit, and my mom was able to see me fly and practice and learn more about ballooning as well. Hot air balloon school in 3 weeks is essentially a constant exam, so when my mom came out, I couldn’t help but expound the details and intricacies of hot air balloon systems, weather, history, aviation regulations, all the information I was desperately cramming into my head.
My family and I all went to the Anderson Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum, and learned even more about ballooning including hot air, gas, airships, and more. My mother loves museums, she loves them, and will frequently reiterate facts and trivia she recently discovered, knowing full well I was just there with her. While I was busy in balloon school, she visited the Turquoise Museum in Old Town Albuquerque, which resulted in me learning more about turquoise than I ever wanted to know, vicariously through my mother’s exuberant turquoise fascination. After a few days it was time for my mom to go home, and return from her vacation to the daily grind as a 2nd grade teacher, where I’m sure she has already told her helpless pupils way too much about turquoise. Before we parted ways she told me how proud of me she was, blah blah… and that she learned “quite a bit about ballooning”, and that “there sure are a lot of gloves when you’re hot air ballooning.”
I was mildly stunned. After regaling me with turquoise tales, and listening to all my captivating facts and stories about hot air balloons, her main takeaway after her visit was, that there sure were a lot of gloves involved in ballooning. In some ways I felt that I had failed to instill in her the passion that I have about balloons, but I then realized that not everyone is probably as seriously stoked about balloons as I am. My mom has her own interests and pursuits, and who am I to force my partisanship on anyone? Thinking about this brought up an acute realization: there are a lot of gloves in ballooning.
Today in fact, while at Dan’s Boots and Saddles in Albuquerque (which I highly recommend for all your western wear, boots, saddles, feed and supply needs while in the greater Albuquerque area), I bought another dang pair of gloves! Well, my mom is smarter than I am. The pilot and crew all need gloves, inflating, flying, deflating, refueling; gloves are essential, if you want to keep using your hands that is. There are a lot of ropes to handle, fire, and liquid propane that could instantly freeze your hands off. Gloves are really important. Gloves wear out quickly, and often don’t fit properly. Gloves that have a thumb or finger that’s too big are awful and frustrating and even dangerous. Leather is the mandatory material, and they’re a pretty substantial topic of conversation amongst both balloon pilots and crew. Luckily gloves are relatively cheap, and there are usually lots of extra pairs lying around.
However, borrowing a pair of gloves may be borderline sacrilegious, but gloves are a necessary and integral part of ballooning. A good pair of gloves is invaluable, a pair that fits well, keeps your hands warm, remains flexible, pliable, and lets you accomplish the tasks necessary for a good flight. And there isn’t one single pair that will accomplish all of these tasks, multiple pairs of gloves are unavoidable throughout the year. And a good pair of gloves is like a good pair of jeans, you’ve gotta try em on to see if they fit, you can’t just order your size online and expect them to work out. So the next time you’re out ballooning, make sure you’ve got the right pair of gloves.