On 6th March 2015 we have done a night flight over the Pyrenees with full moon. This has been a very nice experience that has taken some time to prepare. In fact we were in the same place, Vall d’Aran one month earlier and we discarded the flight. The reason was too windy and even was possible to fly we thought the time over the Pyrenees had been too short to enjoy.
So one month later, this last Friday 6th March 2015 , we go back again. As we had all work till late, we decided to go direct after dinner at home, without much sleeping.
The Valley of Aran is not very wide, so powerlines, river and villages do not leave much places for take off. Also we did not like to disturb too much the people sleeping as with the fan starting at 4:15 is not nice. So it took us more time than expected to find the right spot to take off, but it had it’s premium. A nice snowed field enough far to not disturb the night to villagers in Arties. Also was enough big in case of changing the wind direction some degrees. So we had time to prepare well the take off. We were all excited and after being all ready we started the flight at 4:41 a.m. . As the wind was not strong, we could manage to go a little down to the valley approaching Vielha looking around as we were climbing gently. The landscape was wonderful and the pictures do not show the clarity we had on our eyes with the full moon and the snow reflection. This has been a mistake to not repeat. Before we need to prepare the cameras and take some shots at distance, so we check the pictures are good enough. Anyway we were climbing steady at 4 m/s until we had clear any rotor could not take us on the mountains. At about 3500 m we level the flight and we look at the beautiful scenary having the Aneto and Biciberri not far at our right and other wonderful mountains and lakes around. We took off with the Adriatic M-105 balloon with double layer up to 40 %, so with 6×25 Kg titanium cylinders, we knew we should not have any trouble for the consumption.
After passing the Pyrenees, we start to climb to high altitude up to 21000 feet to test the new MK-32 burner. One side of the burner with the pilot light on vapour and oxygen and the other side with the standard liquid pilot light. All went perfectly, though we had to descent fast as we were approaching the TMA of Zaragoza , and still no radio contact with Barcelona tower. Before entering TMA we could contact and put a transponder code, so we were well controlled during the rest of the flight.
Sunrise was another beautiful scenary. As you are high, you see a very large horizon with light. Very few clouds started to appear in the Pyrenees , but we could do the flight out of clouds when we were over there, so the light of the moon over the snowed mountains was incredible.
Balloons have this interesting particularity: You never repeat a flight. This makes all flights very challenging and surprising, as you have to change your mind many times and improvise according the new situation. That is part of the balloon appeal.
We could see the smoke of some factories not too horizontal, so we were expecting a nice landing. Fortunately we could find a good place near a highway exit, so the retrieve was not too late to arrive when we landed at 8:39. With a 105 climbing at more than 6000 m , and remaining more than 1 bottle of 25 Kg, so with a consumption of 125 Kg including inflation, we think was a good performance for the balloon. Adriatic M-105 is the recycled envelope form the older Aconcagua N-180 after being found in the Adriatic sea 10 days after sea landing. But that is another story.