«Hot-air ballons love the Monregalese because the climate is perfect»
The Monregalese is the Italian capital of hot-air balloons thanks to a particular climate made up of beautiful days and masses of air that move in a constant and predictable way, perfect for hot-air ballooning, and a flying club,Aeroclub, with a large group of pilots. Below is an interview of Mondovì resident, Giovanni Aimo, the dean of Italian aerostatic pilots.
Giovanni Aimo was the first Italian hot-air balloon pilot and has been flying the skies of the Monregalese since the 1980s.
DOES OUR AREA REALLY HAVE A MICROCLIMATE PARTICULARLY SUITABLE FOR HOT-AIR BALLOONING?
«Absolutely! The Province of Cuneo is surrounded by valleys whose center is located just north of Mondovì. Every night and morning, cold and low-altitude currents (katabatic winds) descend from the valley and every afternoon the air masses move in the opposite direction (anabatic winds), also known as mountain breezes. These currents are like streams of air that roughly follow the rivers. The Tanaro Valley current, for example, reaches as far as Alba and Asti. All this variety of air currents creates complex system that we have gotten to know well in all these years flying over the Monregalese: at different altitudes there are different currents that we pilots can exploit to navigate hot-air balloons as much as possible where we want. (Remember, hot-air balloons, unlike airships, are carried by the wind without being able to change direction.) Above Mondovì in the morning, 200 meters above the ground, there is a current which will take you to the Langhe».
IS A HOT-AIR BALLOON RIDE SAFE?
«Particular climatic conditions allow us to fly safely since we already know, more or less, where we are going to land. We only fly with passengers in the mornings because the weather conditions are more stable and the trajectories more predictable. The difference I have found after 40 years of flying is that in recent years there is more wind in the afternoon, especially from southeast. This is why we only fly with students in the afternoons, and often we have to cancel the flight. Another important component which allows us to be able to fly safely and easily is having many meadows and very kind farmers who not only allow us to land on their property, but sometimes invite pilots and passengers in for a good glass of wine after disassembling the balloons.».
IS MONDOVÌ REALLY THE CAPITAL OF HOT-AIR BALLOONING?
«In Mondovì it’s normal to have four or five hot-air balloons flying every weekend, whether it be for tourists, flight school, or foreign pilots who come to fly here. There’s no other place like it in Italy. In order to see hot-air balloons in other regions or towns, there would have to be a rally or event, which usually don’t last over time because they’re too expensive. In Mondovì the show is free, all year long! There are even many people who work full-time in this sector. There are representatives here from three big European hot-air balloon making companies. There’s also the BBAC English flight school, where I work mainly, as well as the Milan flight school. In the Monregalese there are about thirty active pilots with about twenty hot-air balloons and there is constantly flight activity, whether it be for sport, flight school or commercial reasons. It’s the only place in Italy where you have this type of activity all the time. And all this activity generates year-round tourism, including for the annual International Epiphany gathering, Raduno internazionale dell’Epifania. Some British pilots have even bought a house in the Monregalese to be able to fly in these ideal conditions all year long.».
To learn more, click on:
- THE INTERVIEW– Cosa vuol dire stare in mezzo alle nuvole? An Italian interview with a hot-air balloon pilot. To find out more about the emotions of flying.
INTERNATIONAL HOT-AIR BALLOON RALLY
Click here for the official hot-air ballooning site: aeroclubmondovi.it