Istanbul

It had been extremely windy every day and the day before our scheduled event day, it even rained heavily. But today (it seems like we can trust what lovely Mrs. Ersön read in the coffee grounds!), what a lucky day for the New7Wonders campaign. This morning, we are blessed with an absolutely calm, dark blue daybreak!

We had plenty of time to put up the balloon, everything looked like it was going perfectly—and then suddenly, as I touched the motor-driven fan to redirect its blow to fill up the envelope (the silk balloon part) of our N7W balloon … the motor started to sputter and came to a complete stop! The balloon was only half filled with air, this was a disaster! Our pilot decided to try to heat the inside with the flames coming out of the burner, but the envelope kept collapsing in on itself and there was a huge danger of the flames burning the envelope of our balloon rather then the air inside. After some extremely tense moments, we decide to give up. The blower had simply run out of fuel, and then we realized that there had been a leak in the gasket of the fuel filter! Luckily nothing happened during the transport, since this meant that we had gasoline in the bottom of our balloon trailer. Time to get some gasoline from the nearest gas station, using the first taxi we could find!

Within seconds, the very calm and pleasant moment became an extremely stressful experience as it could have meant the end of our N7W balloon! We were really lucky to have the weather stay calm and we had several really nice, soaring flights. There were about 6 television crews there and some other journalists, so we took a bunch of them up in the basket. We did almost fly into a streetlight (we tether the balloon with ropes, so we could pull away in time), but that worked out well, too …!

The rest of the 5 AM to 10 PM day was a delight. The warm certificate handover ceremony to Dr. Dunsur, the President of the Hagia Sophia Museum, and Prof. Ilber, Turkey’s leading historian and Byzantine expert who is also President of Topkapi Palace, took place in the afternoon in front of Hagia Sophia and it became a successful press conference that generated lots of interest from the many TV cameras and journalists present.