About the Post

Author Information

Helena Artmann has a bachelor degree in Communications with a vast experience in PR and the online world. Before moving to Canada in 2005, Helena published a variety of articles in Brazilian magazines and websites, mostly about travel, adventure, outdoor, gear, environment and her favourite activities, mountaineer and hot air ballooning. This is her website: http://artmanncommunications.com

Map and compass

It had a time when navigation meant using map and compass, not GPS. This was not too long ago. I always loved maps and how they made me dream about new places to visit but I had no idea how to navigate through them. Twenty three years ago I started rock climbing and hiking. I always loved the mountains but I wanted more than to be guided during clubs excursions, so I sought the information that was going to allow me to be independent. Or, at least, recognize when someone was doing something wrong.

Hot air balloon

A very special ex-boyfriend was also a cartographer and taught me a great deal about maps and compasses. Together, we spent a lot of time on trails and climbs, and I got more and more comfortable with the art of navigation. At this time, I was not dedicating much time to hot air ballooning, an activity I was introduced to when I was just 20 years old, but a friend got her pilot license and invited me to navigate for her during a Brazilian Championship. We formed an all-women team and had tons of fun – my job was to fly with her and be responsible for the flight strategy.

Mix the two, air and trails, was not my initial plan but it ended up being very interesting and nerve-wracking, to say the least. I was on Lilian’s team for a few championships, including a Ladies World Cup in France. But before the French experience, a Catalan pilot, Lourdes, found me through a common friend and invited me to navigate for her in Poland, during the 11th Ladies World Cup in 2000. Lourdes is an exceptional pilot and we placed 2nd during this championship. ‘The hot air balloon is the oldest successful human-carrying flight technology’, as explains the Wikipedia. And to follow an ancient form of flying, the rules in Poland were that we couldn’t use GPS!

A hot air balloon championship is, above all, a precision game. All the tasks are related to precision and the rules are created to test the pilot capacity to drive something that can only be driven by the wind. It is a beautiful sport – seeing that amount of colorful fabric flying with the wind makes you dream. Being in a basket is like floating – a completely different feeling from any other type of flying…

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