YOU would be hard pressed to find anyone who knows the ins and outs of Ipswich better than Graeme Day.
The proprietor of Floating Images has been piloting his balloon over Ipswich for the past decade, clocking up more than 800 flight hours.
Now, after a few tough years thanks to the economic downturn and fallout from Ipswich's big wet, people are rediscovering the beauty of Ipswich from the best vantage point possible.
It's an early start, 5.30am to be precise, and as you momentarily wonder how you forgot a jumper on a 14 degree morning, Mr Day completes the safety briefing complete with the line, "Please don't try to exit the vehicle during flight." Good advice.
You forget the chill as you float skyward, quickly
understanding why a balloon ride is on so many people's bucket list.
Rising slowly off the dew-covered grass at Limestone Park, the balloon ascends faster than you might think, reaching an altitude of 2600 feet in no time.
The early morning sun blankets the city as you float over the CBD, taking in the Coles and Icon Ipswich development sites.
Riverlink and North Ipswich Reserve disappear below the basket as does the temporary home of the Moscow Circus at Len Johnson Oval.
As the balloon makes its way over Brassall and out towards the Lockyer Valley, the 360 degree view leaves passengers with a permanent smile.
"It's perfect conditions today," Mr Day said.
"You can see the Brisbane CBD, out to Moreton Island and even to the Glasshouse Mountains."
To the south and west passengers also take in the stunning ranges that border the Lockyer and Fassifern Valleys.
Passengers Stephen and Lisa Lazarakis are enjoying the flight as birthday gift, something Mr Day says is a common theme.
"I've lost count of the number of proposals I've seen up here," he said. "I've done three wedding as well and have a fourth one in October."
As the balloon touches down for a pinpoint landing, the journey may be over but for these passengers the memories will live on much longer.
The Floating Images balloon flies seven days a week, weather permitting, and is available for charter for special occasions - just don't ask to fly a particular direction.
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