Historic Hot Air Balloon Ride in Twin Ports

First Balloons to Ascend Out of Duluth in Over 100 Years

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“There has not been a hot air balloon that’s ascended out of proper Duluth in over 100 years,” said Ryan Kern, President of Kernz & Kompany.

Inflating a balloon with 120,000 cubic feet of hot air, and soaring over a city, requires some pretty specific weather conditions.

“Well it’s always about two things here in Duluth: wind direction and wind speed,” Kern said.

But Friday afternoon, the stars aligned in The Twin Ports.

“The wind direction is going to be taking us away from Lake Superior, and the wind speed is down below 10 mph,” explained Ed Chapman, the Chief Aeronaut at Balloon Ascension Unlimited.

History was made right above hundreds of thousands of eyes.

“You may hear an occasional dog barking from down below, it’s because he wants to go for a ride too,” joked Chapman.

It’s simple science.

“Warm air rises,” said Kern.

And it only requires a few basic steps to take off.

“We’ll use this gasoline powered inflator to fill the envelope – that’s what we call the fabric part. We’ll fill it full of air until it pretty much has its shape,” Chapman described.

Then, heat up that air with burners until the balloon is standing upright, and up, up and away to enjoy a peaceful ride with incredible views at 2,000 feet above the ground.

“It’s not so much that you’re flying over something. It’s almost as if you’re standing still and the earth is passing by beneath you,” explained Chapman.

The rules are basic. The higher you want to go, the more heat you add.

“Once they stop pumping that hot air in, then the balloon will slowly start to decend and it’ll get you back on the ground,” Kern described.

Drifting in the wind at about 6 miles per hour, winds back the clock a couple hundred years.

“It’s the first way that people left the earth in hot air balloons back in 1783,” said Chapman.

Accomplishing all the goals for the day.

“Set some history, and relive some of that magic from the 1900s,” Kern said. 

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