D-OSBK: OVER THE ALPS
It had been a dream, nourished for years: An Alpine Crossing with my D-OSBK, the first balloon I bought back in 2010. In the meantime, it is 20 years old and has got over 650 hours in the book – an outstanding example for the excellent quality produced by Kubicek Balloons!
In early February, a weather pattern formed that provided good conditions for a flight with a relatively small (3000m³) balloon: Strong upper winds and a straight southern direction, allowing a takeoff just minutes from our homebase.
So, we teamed up with two balloons from Bavaria Ballonfahrten and one from Ballonfahrten Chiemsee, and took of from Füssen glider airfield at 8 o’clock in the morning.
After we had climbed through a thin layer of clouds, the first highlight of our Alpine Crossing awaited… the most beautiful aureola I have ever seen! For the first moments, it was a complete circle. Magical!
Flying further south, the clouds disappeared, and we could soon enjoy the entire beauty of the majestic mountains. And down the Merano valley, an orange lining appeared on the horizon: The Adriatic Sea!
With the rising sun, temperature in the basket was very comfortable, even though we were flying in FL160 to catch up on the other balloons flying in front of us. The consumption was a bit higher than expected – around 2 liters per minute – but still we were confident that we would make it, flying at over 100 kilometers an hour.
Italian ATC was also happy with us, although it must have been a bit confusing for them with D-OABK and D-OSBK flying so close to each other and both communicating with them… but we mastered that as well! :-)
Behind the main ridge of the Alps, the wind patterns changed: faster layers now were significantly lower, and with the other balloons leading the way, we also left FL160 and continued at a lower altitude, which also had an immediate effect on our fuel consumption.
Passing Lago di Garda, we sped out over open terrain, with still 100 liters of propane left – more than enough for the descent and a safe landing.
Verona, the scene for William Shakespeare’s famous play ‘Romeo & Juliet’, was a fantastic sight on our landing approach. Can you spot the balcony? ;-)
Descending to ground level, we found out that there was almost no wind – perfect landing conditions after exactly four hours of flight. We moved the balloon to a nearby track for deflation, and there it stood, 20 years old, 650 flight hours, a most reliable companion through many wonderful adventures. The dream was done! =)
This newest adventure wouldn’t have been possible without the help of many friends, first of all my copilot Florian, our retrieve Martin, Thomas from Kubicek Balloons Deutschland with his many advices on the weather and of course our travel companions from Bavaria Ballonfahrten, Marcus, Dago, Florian, Sebastian and Klaus.
THANK YOU! ;-)