Balloonists. Champagne. Huh?

A co-worker and I were talking during lunch, and we somehow got on the topic of hot air balloons. She told me about the time a hot air balloon landed on her lawn. She said it was wonderful, “especially the bottle of champagne.”

“Huh?” I asked.

She went on to explain… “Balloonists always have a (new, unopened) bottle of champagne with them. If they land on private property, they give the bottle to the owner. It’s a tradition.”

“Huh?” I asked.

First time I ever heard this. She thought it was common knowledge.

I’m not doubting her story, but how wide spread is this, really? Do most balloonists actually carry a bottle of champagne in their basket at all times for this purpose?

I saw a documentary on ballooning. Sometimes, it is referred to as a champagne ride, or trip. Today, it is a tradition some balloonists will follow. The story is this:
When hot air ballooning began, these “strange crafts” were not believed to be “terrestial”. And, it was interpreted as if a human were flying. Allegedly, ballooning started in France, and the champagne was taken along as proof that these “aliens” were not only earthlings, but fellow Frenchmen!

In a nutshell,

  • Jinx

Well, I don’t know for sure if hot air ballooning STARTED in France, but the French DID start the tradition og taking along an unopened bottle of champagne.

  • Jinx

Yes, hot air ballooning DID start in France, with the Montgolfier brothers (spelling may be off). The champaign was to appease frightened and/or angry peasents who occassionally viewed a landing balloon as an attacking beast or invasion.

When I took a balloon ride the champaign rode in the chase vehicle and we (passengers and crew) kept it for ourselves without sharing it with the peasents

My dad went up in one and he was initiated for his first balloon ride by having to drink a glass of champagne from a glass sitting on the ground without using his hands. He had to get on all fours and tip it into his mouth sideways.

Not really the proper manner I think (although they might be different in diferent parts of the world). I was initiated by getting smeared on the forehead with soil from the place where we had landed. And, of course, a glass of champagne or two.

BTW If you ever get the chance of getting a balloon ride, take it! It was a wonderful experience.