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April 14, 1999|SHAV GLICK

What: The Joy of Ballooning: A Photographic Celebration, by George Denniston.

Price: $19.98, Courage Books

Long before the Wright brothers flew their contraption called an airplane at Kitty Hawk, man was soaring through the sky like a bird in hot-air balloons. In September, 1783, only a few days after the American Revolution officially ended with the treaty-signing at Versailles, Etienne Montgolfier sent the first hot-air balloon floating over Paris--with three animals, a rooster, a duck and a sheep.

A few months after successfully retrieving the balloon and its animal cargo, Montgolfier and his brother became the first humans to fly, traveling six miles in 25 minutes. Skies have never been the same.

Author George Denniston, a licensed pilot and flight instructor, who has also piloted DC-3s, autogiros, gliders and the Goodyear blimp, has compiled more than 100 full-color photographs with an entertaining and informative text on everything you ever wanted to know about balloons.

For readers intrigued by the idea of ballooning themselves, or merely watching what is one of the most peaceful sights in the world, Denniston has put together an index of international ballooning festivals, among them the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, May 1-2 at Lake Skinner. Others include the Prado Park Balloon Festival at Chino in August, Victor Valley Balloon Festival at Victorville in September, and Ridgecrest Balloon Festival in November.

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