1989 Saga World Hot Air Ballooning Championships was one of the most extraordinary ballooning experiences of my life.
I was invited to be a part of the event in Japan by our sponsors Elgas and by my pilot and mentor Asbjorn Damhus. He had wrangled an invitation to attend by representing Denmark in the Championships. I think it is the first and only time a special shaped balloon has flown as a competitive balloon in the World Championships.
I have never seen such excitement or such dedication as the Japanese. It was my first time to Japan and we were treated like rockstars. I loved every minute of this event and fell in love over 5o times during the 10 days we where there. We stay in a traditional Japanese Ryokan and our hosts as seen in this picture where the most incredible people. Also in this picture is a very young John Wallington who was representing Australia with his team.
I still to this day believe that attending a balloon festival in Japan is one of the top ten things to do in this sport.