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HOT Air ballooning - Riding High

Imagine gently floating in the early morning sunlight over the spectacular and historic cities of Andalucia, hovering kestrel-like above endless fields of sunflowers, olive groves and orange orchards... or perhaps even enjoying a bird's eye view of the vast, constantly shifting sands of the Sahara. Welcome to the fascinating world of hot air ballooning...

Based in Rute, in the neighbouring province of Cordoba, Cirros Sur Andalucia, whose pilots have more than 20 years' experience, specialise in every aspect of hot air balloons — from leisure flights, excursions and expeditions... to aerial photography, incentives, publicity campaigns and the organisation of exhibitions and commercial events.

Their corporate clients include the Andalusian Tourist Board, Vodafone and FIATC, while the landmark VIVA Estates' VIVA Go Live Spanish property and lifestyle showcase — held each Wednesday and Thursday throughout July and August at Marbella's 5-star Don Carlos Hotel — owed much of its unqualified success to the towering presence of the Cirros Sur hot air balloon regularly tethered to the beach at the eastern end of Puerto Banús where it attracted thousands of visitors lured by its magnetic appeal.

In addition to competing in balloon races, challenges and regattas, Cirros Sur also took part in the popular Spanish TVE television series Al Filo de Lo lmposible, in an episode intriguingly featuring ballooning in Peru.

Authorised by the Direccion General de Aviacion Civil, Cirros Sur are licensed to fly anywhere in Spain, other of course, than in restricted air space, and regularly operate a variety of excursions at locations including Antequera and Ronda, Córdoba and the nearby Sierra Subbetica mountains, Granada and neighbouring Guadix, Carmona and the Aljarafe Sevillano, Arcos de la Frontera, and Niebla. Trips normally last between four and five hours, including between 60 and 90 minutes of actual ballooning followed, according to tradition, by a glass of cava, a hearty breakfast, and certificates all round!

Given their enormous proportions, perhaps surprisingly it takes the experienced crew little more than 15 minutes to prepare and inflate the balloons ready for lift-off, and only slightly longer to carry out the reverse procedure.

"An experienced balloonist," says Cirros Sur pilot Pepe Millen, "has absolute control over altitude. We normally fly at between 50 and 300 metres, but depending on the conditions, sometimes go as high as 1000 metres. You also have some control over direction, although only very rarely is it possible to return to the take-off point. That's why we're always followed by our own ground crew travelling in 4x4s to meet us when we land. Speed depends entirely on the strength of the wind. A light breeze of 10 to 15 kilometres per hour is ideal, so we always set off early in the morning, between 6.30 and 7am in the summer, and 8am in the winter. You'll hardly ever see a balloon flying — though actually I prefer to describe it as floating — during the heat of the day, because of thermal activity.”

Passionate about his subject, Pepe explains that in 1783 the Montgolfier brothers, having observed smoke rising from a chimney, created a balloon powered by burning straw and manure, which successfully propelled a duck, a chicken and a sheep on an eight-minute flight across France watched by Louis XVI. As all survived, two months later infantry major the Marquis Francois d'Arlandes and professor of physics Pilatre de Rozier became the first humans to fly. In a 25-minute flight, at altitudes of up to 1100 metres, they landed 12 kilometres from Paris.

Cirros Sur can organise excursions just about anywhere in Spain and have also flown - or rather floated - in Portugal. Operating several balloons of varying sizes, they can tailormake trips for anything between one and around 30 passengers and, by teaming up with professional colleagues, can between them carry up to 220 people at a time, as is often the case with their incentives programme, where clients have included major organisations such as Telefónica.

Longer expeditions have included 9-day trips to Morocco, with airline flights, 4x4s, and hotel accommodation in addition to a series of unique balloon trips to view from aloft the dramatic landscapes of North Africa. A similar adventure is planned for Easter 2006.

For an unforgettable experience and a whole new perspective, the answer is blowin' in the wind.

Aptdo de Correos 42, 14960 Rute, Córdoba
Tel: (+34) 957 538 280(+34) 676 951 220
Please note: Every effort was made to check the accuracy of the information contained within our archived HOT Properties Magazine articles at the time of originally going to press, but may well have been superseded over the ensuing years. They are now made available as historical archival information only. The said information has not been reviewed subsequently for present day accuracy nor has it been updated and we expressly disclaim any duty or obligation to do so. VIVA cannot accept responsibility for any errors or omissions, nor for the authenticity of any claims or statements made by third parties. We therefore strongly recommend that readers of these archived articles make their own thorough checks before entering into any kind of transaction. Prices were correct at the time of publication but may now vary due to circumstances beyond our control. The views and opinions of editorial contributors do not necessarily reflect those of VIVA .

HOT Properties Magazine Issue 52 - 2005

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