In the weekend between Gordon Bennett and the World Championship in Bitterfeld we visited the annual balloon meeting in St-Niklaas, where each year some gas balloons are admitted too. Both on Saturday and Sunday 1 gasballoon was to take off. As there are always enough photographers for the hot-air balloons we decided to follow the gas balloon instead. This is a tale of following and … loosing a balloon, something almost every balloon spotter has to go through at a certain moment ;-)
Balloon ‘Bazenheid’, with Alfred Nater (CH) and Uwe Hackmann (GER), left at a very slow pace in the direction of Dendermonde, flying over beautiful villages (Elversele, Hamme, Grembergen). Because of this flight direction we decided to cross the Scheldt immediately and to drive already a little bit in the direction of Aalst. But … when we stopped on the bridge over the river Dender, we noticed that the balloon had shrunk!
By going to a higher altitude, their course had altered completely, so we had no other choice but to turn our car and drive back. Up to the village Moerzeke, where Alfred (or was it Uwe?) let the balloon descend and thus flew back in the original direction, to Kassel this time. Grumble!!!…
Someone who is familiar with the environs knows that the Scheldt makes a large bend, and right there we saw the balloon drifting around over a vast area of water-meadows (forelands)... By then the first regular hot-air balloons were already colouring the sky above St-Niklaas.
While the sun continued to sink the ‘Bazenheid’ suddenly gained speed, crossed the Scheldt and left us standing there, perplexed. In desperation we crossed the Scheldt too, but we didn’t find Alfred and his company again.
Nevertheless we weren’t too disappointed. The whole trip - 4 hours of enjoyment - resulted in a series of beautiful photos, we had had a lot of fun, and on our way back to St-Niklaas we could enjoy the sight of the special shapes looking for a landing spot, with a large blood red sun in the background …