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|This article is about the magazine story. You may be looking for the episode or the book.|
One day, Percy enquires about a load his friend Thomas is hauling. Thomas explains that it is a balloon. Percy thinks it is a party balloon and asks if they are invited to the party. Thomas explains that it is a huge hot-air balloon which will take people on trips around Sodor. Just then, James puffs up. He overheard Thomas' explanation and is cross. He states that passengers should travel around the island in railway carriages and not in hot-air balloon. After hearing James, Thomas did not feel excited about the balloon any more. He felt worried.
Next day, Thomas, Percy, James, and all of the other engines were watching the big red balloon rising into the sky. At the station, all of the passengers were impressed by the balloon and they decide they would like to have a ride in it.
Later, James and Thomas were having a chat while waiting at the level crossing. They were both still very concerned about the balloon stealing their passengers. Just then, something big and red drifted right over them and landed on top of James. It was the balloon. James was so scared that he let out a big burst of steam. The steam filled the balloon and it drifted back up into the sky. James' driver praised James, but he was not happy - he did not want to help the balloon. All that day, James saw the balloon wherever he went and it was always full of passengers. James felt sure that he should be carrying those people.
When James returned to the station, the Fat Controller came to thank him for helping the hot-air balloon. Then the Fat Controller tells James that the balloon is bringing a lot of visitors to Sodor and that James will be extra busy carrying people to the airfield. That night, James shared the good news with the other engines. He went to sleep dreaming about learning to fly.
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Jeremiah Jobling (cameo)
- Stephen Hatt (cameo)
- Cyril the Fogman (cameo)