Journalist Marianne Riiali realized her long-term dream and went on a hot air balloon flight. He found it reassuring to watch the scenery from a height of 400 meters. The feeling of freedom and the spirit of help associated with the flight also fascinated the first-timer.
I am loved Helsinki all the years I have lived here. The beautiful old buildings of the city center, the lush parks and the sea that is always roaring differently, but also the metro to the east, the ugly suburban monasteries and the fact that my children have such a multicultural circle of friends.
I have shuttle back and forth on bikes, buses, trams and ferries only to see what Helsinki looks like from any direction. But: I’ve always looked it low.
Today it will change.
In my pocket burning tickets for a hot air balloon flight: one for myself, another for my spouse, and a third for our firstborn. We are all excited – a trip has been known for a long time!
At the same time, the dream that has lived in my mind for years is coming true: how does it feel to fly in the sky, driven by the wind, slowly and silently, and to see the familiar hometown from a completely different perspective?
The hot air balloon flight is scheduled to take off from Malmi Airport. We are a car-free family, so we take a taxi to the station. There has been treatment for the pit during the flight, but the Eskimo is old enough to get involved.
Along the way, we repeat that everything essential is included: water bottles, a camera and caps so the sun doesn’t burn the headgear. There are 19 degrees of temperature and the sky is blue throughout except for a few subtle cumulus clouds.
The fact that we have reached the taxi is an achievement in itself. The flight has already been canceled twice due to weather conditions, as it is not possible to fly in rain or too windy weather. But now everything looks good.
Ore we are met by a yellow minibus followed by a large trailer. Oddly enough, I wonder.
Our pilot in charge of the flight Peter Lindholm Raffica oy from Better Balloons says that there is too much northeast wind, three meters per second, and we cannot fly over Helsinki, because the winds would take us to the sea in an instant. So you have to take a minibus to Mäntsälä and get on the air from there.
What a disappointment! I wouldn’t see the Cathedral or other beautiful landmarks in the city center, I wouldn’t have my former home in Kallio or idyllic Käpylä – I didn’t expect anything. However, Lindholm is not in question, as he is one of Finland’s most experienced hot air balloon pilots and has organized flights since 1988.
Our family in addition, four other customers are boarding the flight and they do not look disappointed. I decide to take it myself and get in pain on the bus.
There is a half hour walk in front.
I have never been to Mäntsälä and wondered what is there. I remember nothing more than the Mäntsälä uprising and Kake Singers’ Mäntsälä in my mind from the 1970s: Well what is being done in Mäntsälä, who would tell it? Who benefits from Mäntsälä, I do not understand. / Well, is it boring in Mäntsälä, yes it probably is / Who likes Mäntsälä, I understand I don’t.
I smile out loud. I hope this is not a harbinger.
Eventually we get there. Peter Lindholm drives a bus with his trailer to the grass field of Mäntsälä Sports Park. From this we reportedly rise. The tension is also starting to rise.
It feels good to expect something so hard. Because of the corona, many fun activities have been in the collar for a long time, and long-distance travel, for example, does not seem like a good idea in this world situation. Fortunately, after the experiences, you can also get close!
What makes the job interesting is also the involvement: in a hot air balloon flight, we are each not only passengers but also employees – a big ball can only be taken to the sky with cooperation.
Lindholmin with the help we gently unload the ball out of the trailer and start spreading it on the grass. The fabric is like a huge, elongated sausage that goes on and on.
When the ball rests on the ground in all its glory, Lindholm begins to fill it with an internal combustion engine driven fan. First, cold air is blown into the ball. Only when the ball is full enough can it be raised.
As the ball begins to fill, the tension also rises. “Now all to the ball,” Peter Lindholm shouts suddenly.
I lift the child to the bottom of the basket and climb after him. No longer missing a spouse, where is she? Still filming! The man injects and swings himself with a brisk motion into the basket.
And then, alone, we’re in the air. First five cents, a meter, ten meters. The flight altitude increases rapidly, and when reaching over the body, it takes comfortably from the bottom of the stomach. I have a slight high altitude, but it’s not scary here. I trust our pilot and his professionalism. In fact, not even Lindholm knows where the ball will take us. It cannot be controlled and the direction of flight cannot be affected.
Randomness indeed, it is one of the charms of flying: since the progress of the ball cannot be controlled, one only has to dare to throw oneself to be carried by the wind.
The idea is real and poetic at the same time. So that’s the kind of hover! Stay perfectly still, but at the same time move silently in the air. Drift, sway lightly. It is the slowness and silence that is fascinating: it feels as if it blends in seamlessly with nature.
Yes, nature. I don’t see the beautiful buildings I miss but mostly the forest and the field. Few buildings are also barns and stand out as small ones. But it doesn’t hurt anymore. I realize that even though I’ve always loved the forest, I’ve never seen trees from just one perspective. I haven’t seen how beautifully the thick top branches of a large pine curve. And I haven’t realized that a struck grain field looks artistic from above, like the paints of a painter’s brush.
The simplistic landscapes are soothing, and the feeling of freedom is dizzying. The child is also impressed.
“I’ll tell you about this in the escort tomorrow, does anyone believe?”
It feels amazing, too. This experience is impossible to compare to anything.
I’ve been so busy feeling the flight that I forgot to shoot. I dig up my cell phone and reach as far as I can to capture everything I see from a bird’s eye view. At the same time terrible: now the grip on the cell phone must not be live.
“Yeah, if it dropped even on the head of the horse below, there would be a bad imprint,” my spouse throws.
The comment laughs, even though he’s right, of course. We are currently crossing the horse farm, and Peter Lindholm hopes no horse will be frightened and wasted. The concern is not unfounded, as the hot air balloon burner rumbles from time to time at a frequency of sound that is said to disturb the horses. However, everything is going well.
“They’re probably already used to it,” Lindholm speculates.
We fly At an altitude of 400 meters, and although the clock is already approaching seven in the evening, the sun is still warming up comfortably. The wind is not felt at all because our speed is the same as the wind. The bravest have taken off their shirt sleeves, I too have given up my obstacle.
Now we can say that we are above everyday life. At home, counters, clothes liners, dirty diapers and unpaid bills await, but I don’t think about them now.
“The sky is so big,” the child says alone.
And he continues, “What kind of cloud Sulo is in, Do you think that some cloud is,” he continues.
I’m moving. We have lost our middle child and talk that the brother is in heaven. I hug my firstborn and talk to little brother for a moment. It is comforting that he goes with us everywhere.
After flying for over an hour, Lindholm begins preparing for the landing. The field looming in front seems appropriate also because Lindholm knows its owner.
“It’s not appropriate to land on all fields because not all farmers like hot air ballooners,” Lindholm says.
“Where are we now?” one of the passengers asks.
That is a good question, because when flying, the sense of time and distance is completely lost.
“In Tuusula,” Lindholm replies.
That means we’ve folded in the air for about 15 miles.
“Put your knees on the hook, your feet are good to stretch. And be careful not to offend yourself if the basket falls, ”Lindholm urges.
Ball quickly loses height, and then rattles: the basket hits the ground, jumps into the air, shakes the ground again, and bounces back into the air. Lindholm jumps into the field and urges my spouse and another crappy passenger to do the same: now the strength is needed to keep the ball on the ground so that all riders can get out of the basket safely.
I ache over the edge and help the child after me. He hosts to his father, I sit for a moment in the middle of a lush clover field and digest what I have experienced. It was an adventure!
And it still doesn’t end. You see, the ball needs to be emptied of air, stacked and folded neatly back into the trailer. Every pair of hands is needed.
“You’re getting to work properly here,” one passenger exclaims, but there is satisfaction in the voice.
It’s nice to be involved, to be part of a team. These are also the most unique workings we have had!
Once our vehicle is packed in a cart, Peter Lindholm convenes the whole crew once more.
Solar already at descent we raise sparkling wine glasses on a quiet dirt road next to a clover field. For experiences and cooperation! I also mind local tourism and the great nature of Finland.
For example, skydiving would not be for me, as I don’t miss the extremes of my life, but consistently good and beautiful. That’s what a hot air balloon flight is.