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JUST A CASE OF RISING ABOVE IT ALL

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Balloonists have the best of both worlds: they combine sport with the gentle art of escape, untying themselves from the busy Earth below and drifting up and away. Sailing across the quiet skies, borne along in a basket, one exercises a minimum of control, freed for leisurely exploration or high adventure—as long as the hot air holds out.

The sport runs year-round. The bundled enthusiast on this page is Bob Waligunda, fixing the vent inside his familiar Lark balloon. In the more summery settings at right and on the next pages, balloonists go up over rolling meadows, come down in farmyards—and everywhere find folks eager to help and curious to watch their getaways.

ELEVEN PHOTOS

HEINZ KLUETMEIER