Although I’ve been going to Page, Az., for many years as a photographer, this was the first time that I have flown my balloon, Fractals, in the community bordering gorgeous Lake Powell.
Friday morning was gorgeous, well, for the most part, this was one wonderful weather weekend! Say that a few times and see if that brings back memories of Baba Wawa (Gilda Radner)from Saturday Night Live…from the 1975 era!
As we prepared and then took off, the gentle winds were taking us towards lower Antelope Canyon, only this view would be different from what I’m used to, this view is from above the Canyon!
I was blessed with plenty of crew to help and a few photographer friends that helped tell the story of the Regatta in images. Kevin Connors, Shawn Johnson and John Ross joined me in capturing the magnificent scenery accented with colorful hot air balloons that you see here. My watermark is on the images in order to protect the images from ending up elsewhere.
If I were traveling as a photographer, I certainly would have loved to come to the area like this only to find that there were three mornings to photograph balloons while in this ‘hood.
A few friends and I took off in a park closer to the Canyon just in case the winds quit. Well, in time, we wouldn’t have to be worrying about that happening.
Once we flew east of the Page Airport, we were in the desert. We had about 3 miles ahead of us to be able to navigate to the canyon. The winds were very light and rather variable. It’s nice when we have those factors that we can find the winds to steer with, in a sense like navigating a boat in the wind. Ours being slow and gentle, for now.
The winds began to shift away from the road that we all were hoping to be able to land on for an easy retrieval for my crew. In the meantime, they had a perfect spot to sit, watch, enjoy and photograph the show flying directly towards them.
We began our flight at about 4 mph. We were looking to land before too long but as we approached the edge of the canyon we were finding that the direction changed by 90 degrees now sending us to the south. And the speed increased dramatically.
We were moving along at 17.6 mph. That’s kind of quick for a balloon, especially considering that the ground is moving zero. Keep in mind that landing on the Navajo reservation has you dealing with barbed wire fences at the edge of the property that we have to clear in order to get the balloon to the road and eventually the trailer that it lives in. Whew. A very interesting landing to say the least.
Our next flight was very different from the fast landing that we experienced on Friday mornings flight. Sunday’s flight brought us to land on the property of lower Antelope Canyon. We landed outside of the parking area and our crew walked us into the parking area where we could deflate the balloon and pack her away. I was amazed that we were passed by those hiking out to the rear entrance of the canyon, hardly looking at us as they made there way into the ground.
The final photo is our group from the weekend in Page. Funny enough, we have packed up my aircraft right in front of Ken’s Tours at Lower Antelope Canyon! What a weekend! Thanks to my group for making it so much fun!
Ken Sklute has been honored as one of Canon’s Explorers of Light, a designation shared by only 60 top photographers worldwide. Ken has enjoyed a diverse career photographing landscapes, professional sports, and people.
Phone: (602) 738-0601