For most, ballooning probably suggests kaleidoscopic patchworks drifting lazily over the cosy English countryside. Or something that Branson bloke was involved with. Something gentle, picturesque, calm.
But we’re here at the 2011 America’s Challenge Gas Balloon Race, and while the path to glory is disarmingly simple - the winner is the balloon that can fly the furthest distance from Albuquerque, New Mexico - the execution is somewhat more intense. And potentially lethal.
Words: Adam Towler
Photography: Justin Leighton
This feature first appeared in the December 2011 issue of Top Gear magazine