The city’s skyline—a soaring line of glassy high rises—stands like a line of sentries to the west, their millions of windows reflecting back the purple-grey of the rising dawn. Standing securely in the basket, my hands gripping the top of its woven dividers perhaps a little too tight, we lift higher in the air, leaving the dewy Aussie soil below. At the controls—and by controls, I mean, mostly, a couple of cords, hanging from above—our pilot pulls down hard, releasing a blast of heat and flame.

“When I learned to be a pilot, they said you have to remember one thing—to burn,” says Dariusz Brzozowski as we drift slowly, inexorably on the light morning winds toward that skyline, where the towers still look taller than our current position.

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