Learn English » Grade 9 Reading Comprehension Exercises


Grade 9 Reading Comprehension Exercises

Hot Air Balloons

Rising before the alarm clock (set at an unfriendly 5.00 am) was activated, we washed and dressed, listening in silent anticipation to the awakening forest. Our torch beams probed the darkness as we walked from our tent to the balloon launch site. Extreme caution was required on the short journey because the path we were following was often used by hippos returning from a night’s foraging and the odd Cape Buffalo out for a nocturnal stroll.

Finally we emerged into a huge, mist shrouded clearing and there before us lay three gigantic balloons. Dawn brushed the treetops with the first light of day and our sense of expectation and excitement climbed with the morning sun.

Suddenly the clatter of petrol engines obliterated the early hush. The engines were necessary to power the huge fans used to force large amounts of air into the balloon’s envelopes. This was just the first stage in the balloon-inflation process and while the fans were running, the ground crew and pilots meticulously checked all the lines and rigging – a reassuring sight for us prospective passengers!

After about 10 minutes of inflation, the balloons began to take shape. The welcome silence following the fans being shut down was suddenly filled by a whoosh of gas. Then came a glorious burst of flame as the gas was ignited.

Adrenaline shot through my body. I had chosen to position myself inside one of the balloons’ envelopes in order to capture on film the dramatic colours of the burner’s incoming flame.

After a few quick shots, I indicated to the pilot my desire not to be barbecued and made a quick exit. By this time, the balloon was approaching its classical vertical position.

At last! The moment we’d all been waiting for! The pilot instructed the excited passengers – congregated here from every corner of the globe – to climb into the balloon’s wicker basket.

Part of a group of ten passengers, we listened intently to our pilot’s briefing. There were no seat belt and no-smoking signs to observe, and the operation of mobile phones and CD players would not affect the technology of this particular aircraft. Landing was to be the big thing. We were instructed, quite sternly, that as the balloon descended, we must crouch down facing backwards – and HAND ON. We were obliged to actually practise this procedure so that those who understood little or no English would be left in no doubt as to what was required. At that stage, none of us could foresee just how exciting our landing would be.

A few final bursts of colourful flame brought the balloon – and us – to the point of lift-off. Our hearts thumped with excitement at the spectacular sight of the other balloons rising – and then it was our turn. The wicker basket scuffed along the ground until suddenly we were drawn upward towards the waiting heavens.

There are no words to describe the feeling of those first few moments of flight. As we rose into the warmth of the sun, we were gently gathered up by the wind and carried towards the romance of the vast African Plains.

Only an intermittent burst of flame interrupted the profound silence as the pilot adjusted the temperature of the air inside the balloon. The basics of balloon are easy – hotter air to climb, cooler air to descend. It takes great skill and practice, however, to anticipate what is required. Wind alone was our propulsion, and we were fortunate to be wafting along with a gentle current that allowed us time to absorb all the magnificence around us. The Serengeti and Masai Masai ecological systems are fascinating enough to behold from a car, but from a balloon’s vantage point, they are truly awe-inspiring.

Exclamations erupted as animals were spotted. All the passengers have become bonded by our shared enthusiasm for this very special occasion. Our Japanese companion was especially overwhelmed. It was extraordinary how, for one short hour, every land-locked barrier of language and culture just evaporated in the face of this larger unifying reality.

Answer the following questions based on the passage above.

From paragraph 1 and 2

1. What dangers were there on the way to the balloon site?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

2. Write down two words that show that the travellers were looking forward to their day.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

From paragraph 3 and 4

3. Why do you think the passengers needed to be ‘reassured’?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

4. Why did they light the gas?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

From paragraphs 5 and 6

5. How do we know that the writer was interested in photography?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

6. Explain what the writer means by ‘after a few quick shots’.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

From paragraph 7 and 8

7. Which phrase tells us that the passengers were an international group?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

8. What is the balloon contrasted with?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

From paragraph 11 and 12

9. Explain in your own words ‘only an intermittent burst of flame interrupted the profound silence’ paying special attention to the words in italics.
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

10. How do we know the passengers could not decide which direction they went?
…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Answers

  • Hippos and buffalos
  • Expectation, excitement
  • They were afraid something might go wrong with the equipment.
  • To heat the air and so raise the balloon
  • Because he went inside the balloon to get a photograph of the flame
  • After quickly taking some photographs
  • From every corner of the globe
  • An aeroplane
  • There was complete silence except when occasionally the flame was ignited.
  • They were blown along by the wind.


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