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Winter journey

Sarah Giddings

While most of us were shivering on the ground last Saturday, Don Dumke was floating in the sky, sipping hot chocolate with his daughter Aubree and her friend Zak. Despite a thermometer reading of -4 degrees Fahrenheit when spotted at 11 a.m., Dumke says it was a perfect day to go hot air ballooning.

“Winter flying allows you to fly throughout the day if the winds are cooperative because there is very little thermal activity,” he explained. “The main reasons balloons typically fly only in the early mornings and late evenings is because there is too much surface heating and there is dangerous thermal activity.”

There is no steering wheel in a balloon, so the pilot has to be aware of the winds, which determine the route.