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Annual hot air balloon festival in Canberra

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The skies above Canberra, Australia, are ablaze with colour during the annual hot-air-balloon festival. It all looks so serene, but on the ground, the chase crews have a sport all of their own.

Annual hot air balloon festival in Canberra 

They're up with the larks to prepare for the off!

Dozens of colourful hot-air balloons grace the skies over this week-long festival.

"It's rewarding, it's good fun. I enjoy it. You always get champagne at the end of it. That's the bit you look forward to," said Brendan Taylor, crew member.

The crew of the 'Take Off' aren't taking paying guests; they came for the love of it.

"Ballooning is such a great mix of excitement, leisure, it's great fun, you meet some great people and great opportunities to travel all over the world. It's just a fantastic pursuit to be a part of," said Craig Farrell, pilot.

But most of those putting a balloon in the air will stay grounded.

"Our job is basically to try and stick underneath the balloon, in case we're required," said Mike Ankers, crew member.

"You drive around, you've got to look where they're going and try and guess where they land. It's all a bit of a sport I guess," crew member, Brendan Taylor said.

The chase-crew follow the balloon, meeting it wherever it touches down.

Balloons can be steered manually in only two directions - up and down!

It's what many love about the sport.

"I'm steering using the air currents. I can't steer the balloon; I can only put myself into the direction I'm after," Farrell said.

Of course this makes landing tricky.

"Ideally you'd be looking at a football oval, a public clearing, something with no obstructions, and ideally, because it's a brand new balloon, nice, green and soft."

But when such an opportunity doesn't present itself, you make do with what you've got... in this case a car park.


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